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Reps to probe MultiChoice over ‘N1.8trn unremitted’ tax

Reps to probe MultiChoice over ‘N1.8trn unremitted’ tax
February 28
20:17 2024

The house of representatives has resolved to probe MultiChoice over an alleged unremitted N1.8 trillion tax and $342 million in value-added tax (VAT).

The lower legislative chamber passed the resolution during the plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Saidu Abdullahi, a lawmaker from Niger state.

Multichoice owns the satellite television services, DStv and GOtv — popular subscription-based platforms in Nigeria.

BACKGROUND

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In 2021, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) issued notices of assessment and demand notices in the sum of N1.82 trillion as tax bills.

The agency appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover the amount. from Multichoice.

However, MultiChoice disputed the assessments and approached the tax appeal tribunal (TAT).

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There was a series of cases at both the TAT and the federal high court between the government and Multichoice.

Multichoice further instituted a court action on August  25, 2021, challenging the assessment of FIRS over unpaid VAT amounting to $342 million. 

Seven months after the challenge, FIRS and MultiChoice Nigeria agreed to an amicable resolution over pending tax disputes.

As part of the agreements, MultiChoice was to withdraw all pending lawsuits, while FIRS was to conduct a forensic system of the company’s accounts.

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Early this month, MultiChoice Group agreed to pay N35.4 billion as part of its tax obligations to the FIRS.

THE MOTION

While moving the motion, Abdullahi said MultiChoice has been accused of non-remittance of tax revenues due to the government as “evidenced by the suppression of information discovered from the submissions in their home country”.

The lawmaker said previous attempts by FIRS to recover the unpaid taxes through legal means, including court proceedings and the subsequent resolution to settle out of the court by both parties have not yielded the desired result.

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“Systems audit and investigation revealed enormous indebtedness to the tune of over N1.8 trillion in back total taxes for MultiChoice Nigeria, and $342 million in value-added tax, for MultiChoice Africa that had never paid any taxes since they started business operations in Nigeria, both amounts were levied upon the Multichoice Group by the FIRS,” the lawmaker said.

The legislator said there are ongoing arrangements to sell MultiChoice and its subsidiaries in Nigeria while tax indebtedness is outstanding.

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He said if urgent actions are not taken to recover the tax revenues from the MultiChoice Group, Nigeria may lose huge revenue that can inject life into the economy.

The motion was unanimously voted for when it was put to a voice vote by Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house.

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The house mandated the committee on finance to investigate the non-remittance of tax revenues and report back within four weeks.

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