The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service ("LIRS" or "the Service") recently issued a Public Notice, advising taxpayers and the general public of modifications made to the process for conducting Tax Audit and Reconciliation Committee ("TARC" or "the Committee") meetings in view of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Public Notice cites the provisions of Section 29 of the Finance Act, 2019 which affirms the admissibility of electronic delivery of correspondences and also the Advisory and other Protocols on Public Health and Safety issued by the Federal and Lagos State Governments as its basis.
According to the Notice, the following modifications will be applicable to TARC meeting procedures going forward:
- The default mode for TARC meetings will be video-conferencing hosted by the LIRS. Physical meetings will only be held on exceptions.
- Every issue raised by taxpayers must be supported by relevant documentary evidence failing which such issues may not be considered and resolved.
- Documentary evidence submitted to the Committee shall be in soft copies but where soft copies are not available, the hard copies will be accepted.
- The Service may call for additional documentation where the documents submitted alongside an objection letter are deemed inadequate or insufficient.
- TARC Meetings may be constituted when or where:
- Submitted documents indicate conflicting or contradictory position on objection issues;
- Field audit findings are materially higher than taxpayers' position;
- Deemed necessary by LIRS.
- All documents for resolution of objection issues must be frontloaded to the Service at least a week before the TARC meeting is held as no new documentary evidence will be considered during the meeting except in an extraordinary circumstance and at the discretion of the TARC Chairperson.
The issuance of this Public Notice by the Service is commendable as it mirrors the protocols on health and safety issued by the Federal and State Government and also makes for continuity of the LIRS' operations.
However, it is likely that the one-week requirement for providing documents may be insufficient for taxpayers and may form the basis for objecting to assessments, where the period is not extended. Additionally it may be deemed as abridging the taxpayer's guaranteed right to fully object to any assessment they disagree with within the timeline provided under the relevant tax laws.
Based on the public notice, it is important for taxpayers to adhere to physical distancing and advisories on virtual meetings given the overriding health concerns and also engage their tax consultants to ensure proper guidance and compliance with the law in doing so.
Originally published July 7, 2020.
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