MAYORS TURNED OUT TO BE GOOD TAX-COLLECTORS
FINANCE MINISTRY REPORTS ON THE PROJECT FOR SETTING UP NATIONAL REVENUE AGENCYThe proverb that any beginning is difficult was refuted by the pilot project for the establishment of the National Revenue Agency, launched on July 1, 2003 in the town of Bourgas and its region. The EU attitude of administrating local fees and taxes was for the first time introduced in Bulgaria. The mayors of six municipalities - Malko Tirnovo, Pomorie, Primorsko, Tsarevo, Sozopol and Nessebar - were entrusted with alien competences to act as state tax-collectors. They signed special agreements with the Chief Тaxation Administration, allowing them to accept and process tax declarations, as well as specify the size of the due payment under the Local Taxes and Fees Act. As it is known, in the other Bulgarian municipalities these functions are still fulfilled by the respective divisions of the Chief Тaxation Administration. The pilot scheme in the seaside settlements was practically the first step towards the establishment of the National Revenue Agency. The structure is projected to start operating on a national level till the year 2006 and work with a new Tax and Insurance Procedures Code, uniting the Chief Тaxation Administration and the National Insurance Institute. In other words, the setting up of the National Revenue Agency will mean that the presently working multiple desks and the long queues in front of them will be replaced by separate divisions of the new mega-agency, to be called Tax and Insurance Administration. In addition to healthcare and pension insurances, profit taxes, VAT and income taxes will be collected there. Meanwhile, the Chief Taxation Director Nikolay Popov, who heads the National Revenue Agency as well, confirmed in front of a reporter of the BANKER the information published in Issue 29 of the weekly, that the French company Bull Sa would be contracted to deliver and introduce the software for the agency's info system. Thirteen months after opening the first division of the National Revenue Agency in Bourgas, the Finance Ministry does not conceal its satisfaction with the successful first steps of the new structure. The official assessment was made in Bourgas on Monday (August 16) by Finance Minister Milen Velchev and Mr. Popov. Their press conference was also attended by four mayors of municipalities where the pilot project is being implemented. The mayors had the opportunity to boast in front of Mr. Velchev with their good work as tax-collectors. In the words of Ivan Ivanov, Mayor of Malko Tirnovo, in the first seven months of 2004 his municipality reported 40% over-fulfilment of revenues from local fees and taxes, as compared to projections made in the beginning of this year. The biggest growth was in Tsarevo where proceeds rose by almost BGN1MN. The mayors of the neighbour municipalities of Bolyarovo and Elhovo have also shown interest in that activity. The return on each lev, allocated by the budget in the second half of 2003 for maintenance of the employees in the Bourgas division of the National Revenue Agency, was BGN3.75, rising to BGN5.08 in the first six months of 2004, Mr. Velchev pointed out during his visit to the seaside town. Proceeds which the Bourgas Regional Taxation Administration remitted to the budget in the July 2003 - July 2004 period increased by almost 20 per cent. The Finance Minister remained also satisfied with the other measures, intended to modernize taxation and servicing of citizens. For example, the time for processing tax documentation was considerably reduced after the introduction of an electronic register in the taxation administration in Bourgas. Mr. Velchev highly appraised the consultancy assistance, rendered to taxpayers by the staff of the Bourgas taxation administration. A total of 3,500 people used their advices on the application of taxation legislation within the last 12 months. The use of e-signature for filing VAT declarations in the municipalities of Nessebar and Bourgas were also pointed as a positive achievement of local taxation authorities. As of the beginning of July 2004 both tax a insurance declarations are accepted at a single desk in the new modern hall of the revenue agency in Bourgas. Inspector from the two structures will be carrying out jointly audits of firms in the future.