20 February 2013

Nigeria: Taxation Practice - Accountants to Write CITN Qualifying Exams

The umbrella organisation for taxation practitioners in the country, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), has declared that going forward; chartered accountants would not be admitted into its membership automatically.

The institute said this privilege, which qualified accountants used to enjoy, is now a thing of the past. It added that chartered accountants who want to practice taxation in addition to accounting and auditing would only be exempted from writing some subjects in the CITN's qualifying examinations.

The President of the institute, Mr. Sunday Jegede, stated the new position of the institute, while reacting to verdict of the Court of Appeal on the jurisdictional dispute between CITN and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in Lagos recently.

According to him, following the recent judgment in its favour of CITN, the institute is offering an olive branch to its opponent in the eight-year-old dispute.

The institute, he said, is open to peaceful resolution of its disagreement with the sister institution over the exclusivity of its right regulate taxation practice and profession in the country.

"We are happy with the outcome of the appeal. However, CITN is willing and ready for peaceful settlement of this matter. We have said so from the word go. CITN is not fighting ICAN, it is ICAN that is fighting CITN," Jegede said.

He also assured stakeholders that the ruling of the appeal court on the matter notwithstanding, CITN would continue to maintain a cordial relationship with its sister institution, and advised ICAN to leverage on this for the benefit of its members who wish to practice taxation.

The CITN boss also appealed to the leadership of the accountant's professional body to give peace a chance by respecting the decision of the jury, saying "I am calling on the leadership of ICAN to please respect the judgment and respect the sanctity of the law."

Going down memory lane, Jegede recalled that CITN opposed ICAN's continued regulation of taxation practice in 2004 and approached the Lagos High Court the following year to make a declaration that it is only CITN that can regulate taxation profession in the country by virtue of its enabling Act.

According to him, Justice Lateefat Okunnu in 2007 ruled that taxation is recognised as a legal profession separate from accounting and as such the power to regulate taxation practice and profession is vested in only CITN and not jointly with ICAN.

She also ruled that it is illegal for any member or ICAN who is not also a member of CITN to practice taxation in return for a fee in the country, he added.

Jegede noted that the decision of the high court did not go down well with the leadership of the accountants' body, which appealed the decision of the court, giving rise to the latest ruling in CITN's favour by the Appeal Court in Lagos last week.

Reviewing the ruling of the appeal court, the CITN boss said "we are happy with the outcome of the appeal as the Court of Appeal has restated that taxation is a separate and distinct profession from accountancy in Nigeria."

The court, he said, reaffirmed that "CITN is the only professional body vested with the powers to regulate and control taxation in all its ramifications to the exclusion of ICAN and any other professional body in Nigeria and only members of CITN can present themselves as tax practitioners and administrators."

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