1.The Applicant vide a Notice of Motion dated the March 24, 2023 and filed under a Certificate of Urgency on March 28, 2023 and supported by an Affidavit sworn by Peter Ngánga Muchiri, a Director of the Applicant on the March 24, 2023, sought for the following Orders:-i.Spent.ii.That the Tribunal be pleased to issue an order unconditionally vacating and or lifting the Agency Notices dated March 15, 2023 issued to Equity Bank (Kenya) Limited, Cooperative Bank of Kenya Ltd and Family Bank Limited and any of the Appellant’s bankers pending the hearing and determination of this application and intended appeal.iii.That the Tribunal be pleased to extend the time allowed for Applicant to file Notice of Appeal, Memorandum of Appeal, Statement of Facts and all other accompanying documents.iv.That the Notice of Appeal filed herewith to be deemed as properly filed and served.v.That costs of this application be provided for.
2.The application is premised on the following grounds:-i.That on November 15, 2019, the Respondent issued the Appellant with assessment No. KRA20191562415 for the month of January 2018, for Kshs 1,268,088.33, Assessment No. KRA201915650153 for the month of February, 2018 for Kshs 1,192,141.93, Assessment No. KRA201915650152 for the month of March 2018 for Kshs 1,478,292.28, Assessment No. KRA201915649801for the month of April 2018 for Kshs 1,395,047.72 and Assessment No. KRA201915645242 for the month of May 2018 for Kshs 1,454,914.79 all totaling Kshs 6,788,512.05.ii.That the Appellant objected to the said assessment on December 11, 2019.iii.That the Appellant provided the Respondent with documents and bank statements in support to its objection dated December 11, 2019.iv.That the Appellant later learnt that the Respondent’s officer who was handling the matter was transferred and a new officer by the name Victor Ayieko appointed.v.That on March 16, 2022, Mr Ayieko started the case afresh and requested the Appellant to provide more documents in support to its objection.vi.That on the same day, the Appellant wrote an email to the Respondent informing it that all its efforts to have the dispute sorted was rendered futile due to the transfer of the Respondent’s case officer.vii.That surprisingly the Respondent issued the Appellant with an objection decision dated June 22, 2022 rejecting fully the Appellant’s objection.viii.That on September 21, 2022 the Appellant wrote to the Respondent an email informing the Respondent that the decision to reject its objection was erroneous.ix.That on September 29, 2022 the Respondent responded through an email informing the Appellant that an objection decision had been issued and the only recourse available was through an appeal.x.That on October 2, 2022 the Appellant’s Director became seriously ill and was not able to attend to any matter.xi.That when the Appellant regained some December 28, 2022 the Appellant director through an email sought for guidance from the Respondent on how to file an out-of-time appeal.xii.That the Applicant’s director is a layman and fairly elderly and was indisposed during the period of objection and continues to be unwell to date.
Analysis and Findings
3.In compliance with the directions of the Tribunal to the effect that the application was to be canvassed by way of written submissions, the Appellant filed its submissions on April 13, 2023. The Respondent did not file any response to the Application even after being offered the opportunity to do so and the Tribunal directed that the application shall be considered on its merits. The Tribunal has duly considered the written submissions of the Applicant in arriving at its determination in this Ruling.
4.The Tribunal is enjoined to determine the length and reason for the delay when considering an application for the extension of time to appeal out of time. The power to extend time is discretionary and unfettered but the same must be exercised judiciously and it is not a right to be granted to the Applicant.
6.On the criteria of the issues to be considered when granting an extension to file an appeal out of time, the Tribunal referred to the case of Odek, JJA in Edith Gichugu Koine v Stephen Njagi Thoithi  eKLR, where the Court laid out the factors as thus:-
8.The Tribunal, guided by the principles set out in John Kuria v Kelen Wahito, Nairobi Civil Application Nai 19 of 1983 April 10, 1984, referred to by the judges in the case of Wasike v Swala  KLR 591, Sammy Mwangi Kiriethe & 2 others v Kenya Commercial Bank Ltd (supra) and Section 13 of the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act, 2013 used the following criteria to consider the application.a.Whether there is a reasonable cause for the delay?b.Whether the appeal is merited?c.Whether there will be prejudice suffered by the Respondent if the extension is granted?
a. Whether there is a reasonable cause for the delay
10.The statutory timelines and provisions to file an appeal have been clearly set out in the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act. Section 13 (3) of the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act provides as follows with regard to the statutory timelines in commencing an appeal process:-
11.For a taxpayer who has not met the timelines as provided in the above provision of the law, Section 13(4) of the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act provides the conditions that the tax payer ought to meet to enable the Tribunal to exercise its discretion to extend time to appeal. The Section provides as follows;
12.Regarding the reasons for delay, the Appellant stated that its director is a layman and fairly elderly and was indisposed during the period of objection and continues to be unwell to date.
13.To support its averment that the director had been unwell, the Appellant attached a letter from Gatundu Level Five Hospital indicating that the 70 year old director had at some point in May to June 2022 been hospitalized for undisclosed illness.
14.The Tribunal was of the view that although the actual duration and level of indisposition could not be determined, based on the evidence adduced, the Tribunal was persuaded that the director had indeed been suffering ill health.
15.Consequently, the Tribunal determined that the Appellant had demonstrated reasonable cause for delay.
b. Whether the appeal is merited?
16.The Tribunal considered whether the matter under dispute was frivolous to the extent that it would be a waste of the Tribunal’s time, or it was material to the extent that it deserved its day in the Tribunal.
20.The Tribunal noted that the Respondent’s decision dated 2May 5, 2021 confirmed the assessments for VAT amounting to Kshs 6,788,512.05. Looking at the Memorandum of Appeal filed by the Appellant, the Tribunal noted that the Appellant has raised three substantive grounds of Appeal that require rebuttal by the Respondent. Going by the standards set out in the Stanley Kangethe Kinyanjui Vs Tony Keter & others (2013) case the Tribunal finds that the Appellant has an arguable case which requires to be canvassed and considered on its full merits.
c. Whether there will be prejudice suffered by the Respondent if the extension is granted?
22.The test, therefore, as set out in the case above is whether the Respondent will suffer irreparable prejudice if the application is granted. However, having found that the subject matter was arguable, it is the view of the Tribunal that the Appellant’s recourse to justice now lies in an appeal to the Tribunal. Thus, the Appellant’s would suffer prejudice if it is not granted leave to file its appeal. The Respondent on the other had will not suffer prejudice since it will still be able to collect the taxes plus interest and penalties should the Appellant be found to be at fault.
23.The Tribunal therefore finds that the Respondent will not suffer prejudice if the extension is granted.
24.Based on the foregoing, the Tribunal finds that the application is merited and proceeds to make the following orders:i.The application be and is hereby allowed.ii.Leave be and is hereby granted for the Appellant to file its Notice of Appeal, Memorandum of Appeal and Statement of Facts out of time.iii.The Notice of Appeal, Memorandum of Appeal and the Statement of Facts filed before the Tribunal on the March 28, 2023 be and are hereby deemed as duly filed and served.iv.The Respondent to file its Statement of Facts within Thirty (30) days of the date of delivery of this Ruling.v.The Agency Notices dated March 15, 2023 issued to Equity Bank (K) Limited, Cooperative Bank of Kenya Ltd and Family Bank Limited requiring them to pay the Respondent the sum of Kshs 12,213,945.00 as tax owing by the Appellant be and are hereby unconditionally lifted.vi.No orders as to costs.