MTN has engaged the services of the KPMG to handle the demand for the payment of tax on the N330bn ($1.1bn) fine it paid to the government, investigation has shown. The company had confirmed having a technical disagreement with Federal Internal Revenue Service regarding tax deductions from the fine.
Sources close to the company confirmed that the telco had to hire the KPMG because it needed a professional firm conversant with Nigerian tax matters to handle the dispute with the competence required. The Nigerian tax tribunal is looking into the disagreement between the telco and the FIRS on whether the fine paid by the company to the government should be subjected to tax. It was gathered that the tax in dispute was being held in an escrow account pending the ruling of the tribunal. It was also learnt that the tribunal had been on the case for about one year. MTN, which is Nigeria’ largest network operator, was fined N1.04tn by the Nigerian Communications Commission for not meeting the deadline for deactivation of more than five million unregistered SIM cards in 2015. It, however, negotiated a reduced fine on condition that it would list on Nigerian Stock Exchange. After four years, the telco completed the payment of the fine in line with a structured payment plan on May 31 and also listed on the country’s bourse on May 16 in fulfilment of the agreement. The network operator had said it took the disagreement on tax payment to a tribunal set up by FIRS Chairman, Babatunde Fowler, and a former Minister of Finance. The telco in a statement issued last week said, “MTN remains fully compliant with Nigerian tax laws and will abide by the findings of the tribunal. The company is committed to meeting its fiscal responsibilities and contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria.” The company added that it would abide by the ruling of the tribunal whose decision is being awaited by the concerned parties.