LEGAL GUIDANCE ON APPEALS ON TAX MATTERS: BASED FROM A RECENT DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEAL OF TANZANIA
- Restatement of the hierarchy of courts for tax disputes
- Procedural and Statutory Requirements Emphasized
The Court of Appeal of Tanzania (‘the Court’) in its recent decision in the case of G.S. Contractors Limited v. Commissioner General TRA (Civil Appeal No. 80 of 2015) has enunciated a position of the law that all tax appeals to the Court have to abide by the provisions of Section 25(2) of the Tax Revenue Appeals Act, Cap 408, R.E. 2002 (‘the Act’).
The Court has pointed out that an appeal to the Court is a third appeal, after having passed through the Tax Revenue Appeals Board and the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal; both of which are appellate bodies. Being a third appeal, the Court has emphasized the need for a tax appeal before it to contain necessary documents required in the record of appeal and inclusion of the certificate on the point of law. The absence of the said documents renders the appeal incompetent.
- The Record of Appeal and Certificate on the Point of Law
In this case, the Court has clearly stipulated that the record of appeal should conform to the requirements laid down under Rule 96(2) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2009 which provides:
“For purposes of any appeal from the High Court in its appellate jurisdiction, the record of appeal shall contain documents relating to the proceedings in the trial court corresponding as nearly as may be to those set out in sub-rule(1) and shall contain also the following documents relating to the appeal to the first appellate court:-
- the order if any giving leave to appeal;
- the memorandum of appeal;
- the record of proceedings;
- the judgment or ruling;
- the decree or order;
- the notice of appeal”.
The Court has emphatically added that in the case of a third appeal, the record of appeal should have a certificate of the High Court that a point of law is involved. The requirement for a certificate on point of law is likewise provided for under Section 25(2) of the Act which provides:
“Appeals to the Court of Appeal shall lie on matters involving questions of law only and the provisions of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act Cap. 141 and the rules made thereunder mutatis mutandis to appeals from the decision of the Tribunal”.
It is important to note that the Court has struck out the above stated appeal for noncompliance with the requirements for preparation of the record of appeal and absence of the certificate on the point of law.
- Legal Status of the Tax Revenue Appeals Board and Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal
The Court has clearly elaborated the legal status of both the Tax Revenue Appeals Board and Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal. The Court has observed at page 4 of its ruling that:
“Our stating point is to make a general observation that the Tax Revenue Appeals Board and Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal are both appellate bodies in tax disputes; but at different levels. In our view, the Tax Revenue Appeals Board is the first appellate Court from a decision of the Commissioner General and the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal being the second appellate court from the decision of the Tax Revenue Appeals Board”.
Our Tax team adds and emphasizes that the above observation by the Court of Appeal is in line with the provisions of Section 53(1) of the Tax Administration Act, 2015 which provides that a person aggrieved with the decision of the Commissioner General may appeal to the Tax Revenue Appeals Board in accordance with the provisions of the Tax Revenue Appeals Act. Hence restating the position that the Commissioner General is the first tier court in terms of tax disputes.
- Conclusion and Recommendations
Breakthrough Attorneys (BTA) Tax and Litigation teams commend the Court for clearly elaborating the procedure of appeal in tax matters. It is BTA’s view that the interpretation given by the Court in this case will be of significance to the general public and legal practitioners in lodging appeals to the Court in tax related matters as well as creating a candid understanding of the hierarchy of tax disputes settlement forums.
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