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Tax interpretations in Poland do not guarantee adequate security to taxpayers. Thorough reform necessary.

Warsaw, 12th September 2018


The tax interpretation system in Poland requires a far-reaching reform, because in its current shape it does not guarantee the taxpayers adequate protection against the negative effects of amending or repealing interpretations – this is the fundamental conclusion included in the latest publication of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers published as a Business Paper.

The Polish tax system is one of the most tax payer-unfriendly ones in Europe – the perfectly testament to this state of affairs is Poland’s 51st place in the last edition of the Paying Taxes ranking. More than 75% of entrepreneurs believe that legal instability is one of the biggest obstacles to running a business. Therefore, there is no doubt that Poland has a serious problem with its tax system.

“For years, we have been appealing to consequent governments for a radical change of the tax system, which is disastrous, but our petitions are in vain and things get worse,” claims Cezary Kaźmierczak, President of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “Even when we published our document containing a thoroughly described concept of a reform, along with all the necessary calculations, there was hardly any interest on the politicians’ side to initiate change. This serves as perfect proof that the quality of the tax system is not among the real priorities of successive administrations. What counts above all is that there are sufficient funds going to the budget. It is of secondary importance to politicians how much of a cost this state of affairs is to entrepreneurs.”

Institutions that were introduced to mitigate the effects of tax law provisions ambiguity are individual and general interpretations of tax law. The former relate to a specific factual situation or a future event described in a given motion; the latter in turn is issued by the Minister of Finance in order to unify the application of tax law by the authorities.

Over the past several years, we have seen a clear decreasing trend of the number of individual interpretations issued: in 2017, there were only slightly over 25.5 thousand of them issued, the least in a decade. The vast majority of interpretations refer to VAT, which clearly shows that it is this tax that causes the most problems to taxpayers.

“Indeed, the number of individual interpretations issued is falling and it seems that this is the consequence of the fact that entrepreneurs see how little protection they give them,” says Jakub Bińkowski, Secretary of the Department of Law and Legislation of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “The original concept of legal certainty, guaranteeing taxpayers that they will not suffer from the negative effects of amending or repealing interpretations, gave hope that this level of protection would increase. Unfortunately, in the course of the work, this structure was significantly changed”.

Moreover, there were also fewer general interpretations issued in 2017 than in the previous year, because there were only 6 of them. Is this the result of an improvement in the quality of the tax system in Poland? According to Cezary Kaźmierczak: certainly not.

“The quality of the Polish tax system has been bad for a long time and I do not see any radical improvement in this respect,” comments the Union’s President Cezary Kaźmierczak. “So I appeal to the government once again to simplify the regulations and allow entrepreneurs to run their businesses, rather than spend countless hours interpreting new laws and regulations.”

12.09.2018 Business Paper of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers – Tax interpretations in Poland (in Polish)

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