Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

FISCAL AGENTS WILL BE AFTER TAX FRAUDS

The foe Italian tax police Guardia Finanza will have its analogue in Bulgaria. On March 25, 2004 the Government approved a draft bill for the establishment of the Agency for Fiscal Investigations. The task of its employees will be to trace perpetrators of tax frauds and people who evade payment of due taxes. Some of the tax offenders frequently take advantage of the lack of adequate sanctions for not filing a tax declaration in order to avoid the penalties for submitting a declaration with a false content. If tax evasion by not filing a declaration is not criminalised, there will remain a large loophole in legislation and abusive people will avail themselves of that opportunity to evade taxes, Finance Minister Milen Velchev said after the end of the Cabinet's session. Legal responsibility for concealing taxes will be sought and if the accused person is found guilty, he or she may be imprisoned for one to six years. The employees of the agency, to be set up if the draft bill is approved, will carry out investigation prior trial in court. Tax crimes are very specific because they concern the entire society and not individuals. There is a danger of underestimating the threat of them as taxpayers are not much concerned if BGN5MN has been stolen from the budget because they are not directly influenced by that. But this does not make tax crimes less dangerous. By establishing the new agency we aim at creating opportunities for their more efficient prevention and prosecution. The agency will be a juristic person, subordinated to the Finance Ministry. The fiscal agents will be allowed to carry out investigations. With a permission from court they will have the right to demand revealing of the bank or insurance secret, use special intelligence devices and assign to other bodies checks, inspections, and expert evaluations. The fiscal agents will be investigating the so-called VAT carousels, as well as the sources of incomes to persons, whose property does not correspond to the incomes they have declared under the Natural Persons Income Taxation Act. The agency will be also keeping track of and analysing corporate frauds. Secret agents will be implanted in firms of especially risky branches. The Penal Code will include a definition for due taxes of especially big sizes. The limit for big size taxes will go up from BGN3,000 to BGN5,000, and taxes of especially big sizes will be those exceeding BGN5,000. The draft bill projects that the agency will be imposing fines that could be divided into two groups. Up to BGN2,000 fine is stipulated for a natural person who does not assist the investigation. The sanction for juristic persons who refuse to provide information is between BGN50,000-100,000, and BGN100,000-200,000 for a repeated refusal. The Finance Ministry has proposed a fine of BGN5,000-10,000 for deliberate evasion of taxes, and not less than BGN10,000 and one- to six-year imprisonment for evasion of especially big amounts of due taxes. The Penal Code will include a new provision, stipulating five- to fifteen-year imprisonment for the organizers of criminal groups, as almost all VAT carousels are. The draft bill on the Agency for Fiscal Investigations stipulates huge fines (BGN10,000-20,000) and sanctions (bans for carrying out activities for one to three years) for those of its officials who make public, submit, publish or use confidential information.

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