The Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) has set up an Alternative Tax Dispute Resolution (ATDR) Panel to resolve tax disputes through a streamlined process that is efficient and cost effective. The ATDR Panel will consider applications for review made by any person satisfying the conditions applicable for review who has been assessed to tax under section 129 of the Income Tax Act and/or section 37 of the VAT Act and has either objected to the assessment or lodged representations at the Assessment Review Committee (ARC) or appealed at the Supreme Court or Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Under the ATDR, the parties to the tax dispute agree to bring the ATDR Panel as a third party to determine the dispute. The ATDR Panel is an independent panel comprising of a Director of the MRA as Chairperson, a Senior Officer of the MRA designated by the Director-General and a Law Practitioner appointed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. To ensure the independence of the ATDR Panel, its members must not have been involved in the case brought before them and are replaceable as and when required.
Conditions applicable for review under ATDR
An application for ATDR must be made to the Secretariat of the ATDR Panel in a prescribed form (available on the website of the MRA). The application will be referred to the ATDR Panel within one month of receipt. The applicant may be requested to call before the Panel and submit any information or particulars relevant to the application for review.
Determination by the ATDR Panel
The applicant will be informed about the decision of the ATDR Panel within 6 months from the date he is informed that his application for review has been referred to the ATDR Panel. The decision of the ATDR Panel will not serve as a precedent or reference for other cases. The MRA may amend or maintain the assessment in conformity with the decision of the ATDR Panel.
Where there is an agreement between the MRA and the applicant, the agreement must:
Withdrawal of case from ATDR Panel
An applicant may, at any stage, withdraw an application pending before the ATDR Panel and proceed with his objection/appeal at the ARC, Supreme Court or Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, whichever is applicable to his case. The objection will be determined within 4 months as from the date he withdraws his case from the Panel.
The ATDR Panel will work with taxpayers to explore ways of resolving tax disputes and will give consideration to both the legal and commercial aspect of the dispute together with the grievances of the taxpayer before reaching a decision. Undoubtedly, the ATDR will be a welcome option for long running disputes that can be resolved in a maximum period of 6 months, achieving time and cost savings for both the taxpayer and the MRA without adversely impacting the timetable for any ongoing litigation (if an agreement cannot be reached).