X v Board of Inland Revenue

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeBarnes, J.,Burke, J.,Dean-Maharaj, J.
Judgment Date19 March 1993
CourtTax Appeal Board (Trinidad and Tobago)
Docket NumberNos. I 110 — I 113 of 1988
Date19 March 1993

Tax Appeal Board

Barnes, J.; Burke, J.; Dean-Maharaj, J.

Nos. I 110 — I 113 of 1988

Board of Inland Revenue

Mr. R. Nelson for appellant

Mrs. E. Bridgeman-Volney and Mrs. C. Gopaul for respondent

Revenue law - Appeal against assessment to corporation tax and unemployment levy — Appellant objecting on ground that the respondent did not complete the assessment procedure within the time limited by s. 89(1) of the Act — Assessment properly made cannot be set aside for error or lack of proper form in the notice of assessment — Appeal dismissed.


On 22nd September, 1988 the appellant filed Notices of Appeal against assessments to corporation tax and unemployment levy for the years of income 1981 and 1982.


Subsequently, on 12th October, 1992 with the sanction of this Court, amended of appeal were filed by the appellant, containing the grounds of appeal and the statement of reasons to be advanced in support thereof. Included in these reasons was the following which is of particular relevance to this ruling.

“para. 2(b)(1): The respondent never served the original notice of assessment or the revised notice of assessment in accordance with section 86(1) of the Act and neither the original assessment nor the revised assessment was signed by the Board or a person authorized by the Board pursuant to section 113. In the premises the Respondent did not complete the assessment procedure within the time limited by section 89(1) of the Act.”


In regard to para. 2(b)(1) of the Notice of Appeal as amended, Counsel for the appellant sought to have certain preliminary points determined in advance of the Court's adjudication on the substantive issues.


The preliminary points were presented at great length by Mr. Nelson firstly in opening his case; in his address; and finally, in a reply to the address of Mrs. Bridgeman-Volney for the respondent.


During his presentation, in the opinion of this Court, there was some repetition and also some departure from the original issues involving detailed arguments which we considered to be in sane respects irrelevant.


This aspect of counsel's presentation can be seen from the authorities cited for the appellant which will be dealt with later in this judgment.


To assist in an understanding of the points raised, we have attempted to adhere as closely as possible to an extract from his address which we include, as under:–

“I am saying that the service and the signature on the Notice of Assessment are unlawful, and therefore there is no proper service of the Notice of Assessment and therefore there was no jurisdiction either for the Board of Inland Revenue or the Tax Appeal Board to adjudicate on the Assessments.

The second limb of that argument is that in any event there could not now be any lawful Notice of Assessment because six (6) years have passed since the end of the years in question i. e. 1981 and 1982. Therefore the whole claim is statute barred under the Income Tax Act or the Corporation Tax Act and the sections which are incorporated from the Income Tax Act.

My alternative argument is that if the Assessments and the Notices of Assessment are different, and limitation can only apply or that limitation does not apply to the Assessment, as was held in A, then in my submission the ordinary law of limitation contained in the Limitation of Personal Actions Ordinance — Section 5 — under that ordinance the four (4) year period will apply and therefore the demand for tax which is contained in the Notice of Assessment. for 1981 would in any event be statute barred: that is the tax would not be recoverable for 1981.

But I say with reference to both 1981 and 1982 that there is no lawful Notice of Assessment, and there is no lawful demand for tax within the four (4) years, after April 30 of the year subsequent to the year of Assessment — i.e. re 1981 — 30/4/82; re 1982 – 30/4/83. I say within the next four (4) years of that period there has been no lawful demand and therefore in any event the claim is statute barred under the ordinary law of limitation.

That is what I have been saying, but many ways have been suggested to avoid that result. One is section 88 does save the Notice of Assessment. My answer to that is let us look at section 88 and see what it does say.”


A is a reference to A v B.I.R. — 158 of 1988 — A Ruling of Tax Appeal Board of Trinidad and Tobago.


We here observe that reference to the Limitation of Personal Actions Ordinance Chap. 5 No. 6 is in our view irrelevant for the reason that the Income Tax Act, Chap. 75:01, provides adequately for the determination of all of the issues raised, and which simply put are –

  • (1) The Notices of Assessment were invalid in that they were not properly signed as provided for in section 113 of the Income Tax Act;

  • (2) The Notices of Assessment were not properly served in accordance with section 86 of the Income Tax Act.

  • (3) The Notices of Assessment were not lawfu1, and the time guided firm sewing then having long expired, it was not now possible to correct the defects.


In view of (1) to (3) above, the submissions amounted to the contention that this Court had no jurisdiction to determine the assessments as there had been defects regarding assessments for the years of income 1981 and 1982 which rendered them invalid.


No evidence was led, but there is adequate documentation on the record to consideration of the law relevant to the contentions of counsel on both sides and understanding of the facts. we first deal with the matter of its validity of the Notices of Assessment the light of Mr. Nelson's submission that the Notices were invalid not having been properly signed. The relevant section of Chap. 75:01 is 113(1) and (2) and it is quoted hereunder –

  • 113. (1) Every notice to, be given by the Board under this Act shall be signed by the Board or by sane person or persons from time to time appointed by it for that purpose, and every such notice shall be valid if the signature of the Board or of such person or persons is duly printed or written thereon; but any notice in writing under this Act to any person requiring him to furnish particulars to the Board, or any notice under this Act requiring the attendance of any person or witness before the Board shall be personally signed by the Board or by any person duly authorised by it.

  • (2) A signature attached to any notice and purporting to be the signature of any person so appointed shall be taken w to be the signature of that person until the contrary is shown.”


The copies of the assessment notices on record for income years 1981 and 1982 respectively reflect the dates of issue as 86/08/13 and 86/08/29, and in each case the name “J. Andrews” is typewritten in the space reserved for “Commissioner”.


The revised assessment notice for income year 1982 shows the date of issue as 88/10/3, with the typewritten name of “H.A. Hackshaw” as “An. Commissioner” in the space reserved for “Commissioner”.


Mrs. Bridgeman-Volney drew attention to the mode of preparation of the notices of assessments, and it was not contended that the original Notices sent appellant had been different. Section 113(2) quoted above reinforces the view of the Court that in each case the Notice was a proper one and there was no suggestion that either “J. Andrews” or “H.A. Hackshaw” was not a person who had not been properly appointed in regard to the signing of a notice of assessment.


The words in section 113(1): –

“but any notice in writing under this Act to any person requiring him to furnish particulars to the Board, or any notice under this Act requiring the attendance of any person or witness before the Board shall be personally signed by the Board or by any person duly authorised by it”


were noted. It is clear that only in the case of certain types of communication is an actual signature required — a Notice of Assessment is not one of these.


In asking the Court to agree that the typewritten names “, 1. “and “H.A. Hackshaw” did satisfy the requirement of section 113(1) of Chap. 75:01, Mrs. Bridgeman-Volney made reference to the meaning of the word “print” in “The Lexicon Webster Dictionary”, vol. II, page 758 – (1977 printing by The English Language Institute of America Inc.), in part reads as under:–

“An indentation or mark made by the pressure of one body or thing on another; something with which an impression is made; a stamp or die; the state of being printed; printed lettering, esp. with reference to character, style or size; a picture or design printed from an engraved or otherwise prepared block or plate; newsprint;

v.t. — to indent or mark, as a surface, by pressing something into or on it; to produce or fix as by pressure, as an indentation or mark; to produce, as a book or picture, by applying inked types, plates or blocks with direct pressure to paper; cause to be reproduced in print; to write in letters like those commonly used in print; to mark, as cloth, with a pattern or design in color, transferred by pressure. “v.i. to give an impression on paper, as type or plates; to write in characters such as are used in print.”


We agree with that view, particularly by reference to “The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary”, (3rd Ed.), which both counsel agreed was the appropriate source, and ‘in part the word “print” at page 1585 as under:

“I. 1. traps. To impress or stamp (a surface) with a seal, die or the like; to mark with any figure or pattern; to brand. 2. To impress or stamp (a form, figure, mark, etc) in or on a yielding substance; also, by extension, to set or trace (a mark, figure, etc.) on any surface, by carving, writing, or otherwise. 3. To press (anything hard) into or upon a yielding substance, so as to leave an indentation or imprint.”


Regarding the matter of whether the Notices of Assessment were properly...

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