Checking activities of the tax office


In the minds of many taxpayers, the call to appear before the tax office is associated with a very detailed inspection and severe consequences - a fine or even imprisonment. In fact, the tax authority needs a really strong argument to conduct such an audit. If something catches his attention, in order to clarify any doubts, less formal checks will be applied first.

Checks - what is it?

For many people, there is basically no difference between checking and inspection activities - they are often treated as synonyms. However, for the purposes of tax practice, both concepts should be distinguished, as they constitute separate tools that can be used by tax offices. It is also imposed by the Tax Code itself, which includes two separate sections - one devoted to checking activities (section V) and the other dealing with tax control (section VI).

Pursuant to Art. 272 of the Tax Ordinance, checking the procedure is aimed at:

  • checking the timeliness of submission and the formal correctness of declarations or the timeliness of payment of declared taxes (also collected by payers and collectors),
  • establishing the facts to the extent necessary to confirm compliance with the presented documents.

In connection with the above, in the event of errors in the tax declaration, submitting or paying it late, the tax office may request the taxpayer to explain the situation. Importantly, as part of checking activities, the entrepreneur should correct any shortcomings and settle the arrears.

Pursuant to Art. 274 § 1 of the Tax Ordinance, if it is found that the tax declaration contains accounting errors or other obvious errors or that it was completed contrary to the established requirements, the tax authority - depending on the nature and scope of the deficiencies:
1.- corrects the declaration by making appropriate corrections or additions, if the change in the tax liability, overpayment amount, tax refund amount, tax surplus amount to be transferred or the amount of loss as a result of this correction does not exceed PLN 5,000;
2 - asks the declarant to correct it and provide the necessary explanations, indicating the reasons why the information contained in the declaration is called into question.

As can be seen from the above considerations, there are no grounds for treating the checking activities as threatening. Their purpose is only to carry out a formal verification of the correctness of some of the taxpayer's obligations. In the course of the discussed proceedings, the tax authority may, however, have doubts as to whether the taxpayer complies with the tax law. In such a situation, after completing the verification activities, he has the right to carry out a tax audit.

Checking activities from the formal side

The first instance tax authorities have the right to carry out checks, that is:

  • head of the tax office (in the case of personal and corporate income tax, value added tax, tax on civil law transactions and tax on inheritance and donations),
  • the head of the customs office (in the case of excise duty),
  • commune head, mayor, city president, staroste or marshal of a voivodeship (in the case of taxes on real estate, means of transport, forestry, agriculture or local fees),
  • director of the tax chamber,
  • director of the customs chamber.

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As explained above, the reasons for undertaking the verification activities may be minor formal errors in declarations, failure to meet the deadline for submitting certain forms or settling tax liabilities.

In terms of the formal course of such activities, it is not strictly regulated, even in the provisions of the Tax Ordinance. Usually, it starts with summoning the taxpayer to provide explanations, along with the submission of additional documents on unclear issues - e.g. invoices. During the verification activities, the taxpayer may be requested to correct incorrectly provided information (if the tax office does not correct such an error on its own).

The course of the proceedings is formally terminated when the protocol of activities is signed, which is archived in the taxpayer's official files. It is not common practice to pass this document on to the entrepreneur, because it is only informative - it does not contain any decision or assessment of a situation against which the taxpayer could possibly appeal.