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Al-maseer Law Firm v. Federal Inland Revenue Service (2019) - CA


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icon CASE SUMMARY OF:

Al-maseer Law Firm v. Federal Inland Revenue Service (2019) - CA

by NSA PaulPipAr
icon TAG(S)

- Tax collections;
- VAT payment;
icon PARTIES

APPELLANT
Al-maseer Law Firm

v.

RESPONDENT
Federal Inland Revenue Service (MICRO & SMALL OFFICE BAUCHI)
icon CITATION

(2019) LPELR-48628(CA);
icon COURT

Court of Appeal
icon LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:

Boloukuromo Moses Ugo, J.C.A.
icon APPEARANCES

* FOR THE APPELLANT
- Rilwan A. Jibrin, Esq.

* FOR THE RESPONDENT
- A. M. Hassan, Esq.
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icon FACT (as relating to the issues)

This appeal is from the decision of the Federal High Court of Justice (Bauchi Division) delivered by Shitu Abubakar, J., on the 26th day of October 2018.

By an originating summons the appellant as plaintiff sought from the Federal High Court determination of the following three questions:
1. Whether or not by virtue of the provisions of Section 8 of the Value Added Tax Act Cap. VI 2004 (as amended) Legal Practice is a business venture and thus is required to register with Federal Inland Revenue Service Board for the purpose of collecting Tax as its agent and remitting the amount collected on monthly basis.
2. Whether or not a Legal Practitioner duly called to the Nigerian Bar and who practices as such falls within the class of persons contemplated under Section 46 of the VAT Act Cap VI 2004 (as amended) to bring him under any obligation to render VAT return in compliance with section 15 of the Act.
3. Whether or not the purported letters served on the plaintiff demanding it to render monthly VAT return not being a business venture is irregular and of no legal effect whatsoever.

The lower Court in its judgment agreed with Respondent's position and dismissed appellant's summons. Dissatisfied with that judgment, appellant filed the instant appeal.
icon ISSUE(S)

1. Whether in the circumstance of the case the trial Court was right when it held that she is not exempted from registration with Respondent for the purpose of charging or collection of value added tax on the professional fees she collects from her clients.

2. Whether the trial Court was right when it held that respondent had statutory power to demand payment of VAT from her.
icon HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI

[APPEAL: DISMISSED WITH N60,000 COST]

1. ISSUE 1 & 2 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.

RULING:
i. It is worthy of note that, contrary to appellant's argument, the Act does not limit itself to only suppliers of goods but extends the duty of collection and remission of VAT to also those who only supply services. A lawyer or firm of lawyers in private practice undoubtedly supplies legal services to the public for a fee and so caught by this provision and bound to charge and remit to respondent value added tax as stipulated by the Value- Added Tax Act on the fees they charge their clients.
ii. As for the issue' of the lower Court's alleged failure to decide whether appellant actually registered with Respondent, I do not see how that impacts negatively on the decision of the lower Court in real terms, for there is nothing in the VAT Act that suggests that registration by a taxable person per se is a precondition for payment of VAT and or that the duty to pay VAT does not arise until a taxable person is registered. Besides, a resolution of that issue was not even necessary for proper determination of the three questions appellant posed in her originating summons for determination.
icon REFERENCED

Sections: 2, 7, 8, 14, 15, of the Value Added Tax Act Cap IV of 17 2004;
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