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Tuesday 12 November 2019
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BIR must decide on repayment of overpaid taxes to Pricesmart

THE BOARD of Inland Revenue (BIR) has been given until the end of the month to make a decision on the repayment of overpaid taxes to Pricesmart Ltd for the year 2012.

In an oral decision, Justice Ricky Rahim also declared that the BIR failed, within a reasonable time, to make a decision on Pricesmart’s application for a repayment for 2012.

The judge was asked to determine whether the BIR failed to make a decision on the application for the repayment of taxes in a reasonable time.

Pricesmart made its application on October 31, 2017, but the BIR advised it to file an amended return, which it did on December 18, 2018.

Rahim said the filing of an amended return was “wholly unnecessary” and “erroneous.”

“What is in fact required is a reassessment by the BIR upon verification of the claim for repayment. The statute does not provide for the process of amended returns to be filed in relation to claims for repayments,” the judge said, as he found the BIR failed to make a decision in a reasonable time.

He added it followed that the period for determining must run from the date the first claim was filed, in 2017, and not 2018, as contended by the BIR.

However, Rahim stopped short of setting out what should be considered a reasonable period, saying it was not the function of the court. He also refused to make an order for payment into the court as, he said, it was not an issue for him to decide.

Rahim also chided the BIR for submitting that it was “deprived of human resources,” saying there was no evidence of this before him.

“So that the court is being asked to speculate. This it will not do. There is simply no evidence before this court that the reason for delay in making a decision is partially due to a lack of resources,” he said.

The BIR had also asked the judge to consider that approvals must be obtained for repayment, if any is to be made.

“The court accepts that this is in fact the case and further. that the Appropriation Bill for fiscal 2020 is presently before the Parliament.

“However, and in any event, the issue of whether a repayment is to be made is one for the defendant and not for this court, and this court ought not to usurp the function of the decision-maker,” he said.

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