Amendments to Fiscal Audit Act
An amendment to the Fiscal Audit Act of 28 September 1991 went into effect on 30 July 2010.
The amending act introduced a number of major changes in several areas.
Objective scope (subject-matter jurisdiction)
Lawmakers decided to remove issues related to customs inspection from the subject-matter jurisdiction of fiscal audit authorities to the extent exercised by the Polish Customs Service. Inspectors were relieved of authority to disclose assets of persons required to pay public charges or suspected of acts subject to fines or other monetary penalties. The amendment also clarifies the rules in the area of inspections of undeclared business activity and inspections concerning the origin of assets and income not reflected by reported income or coming from undisclosed sources. The regulations concerning inspections and audits of funding received from the EU were also changed.
Access to information (preliminary actions)
In the judgment issued 17 June 2008 (Case No. P 8/04), the Constitutional Tribunal held Art. 7b of the Fiscal Audit Act to be contrary to Art. 51(2) of the Polish Constitution. As a result of this ruling, tax inspectors could not obtain information from data controllers. The newly introduced rules have expanded the reporting requirements for businesses. Inspectors have also been authorised to obtain data identifying the holder of a bank account if they have reliable information that the account is being used to conduct undeclared business activity or to obtain income that is unreported or derived from unreported sources. The act now imposes reporting requirements on publishers and editors-in-chief of newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV programmes, as well as operators of online services, with respect to advertising that indicates that the advertiser is conducting business activity. If they fail to comply, tax audit officials may assess a fine of up to PLN 5,000.
Intellectual property protection
A new feature of the act is authorisation of tax inspectors to identify and counteract intellectual property offences during the course of fiscal inspections.
Oversight of audit activities
New authority has been given to the General Fiscal Audit Inspector to designate the fiscal audit office that will conduct audit activities, including activities outside the geographical area generally assigned to the office. This is patterned on the system used by the prosecution service. The inspector general may also reassign audit activities from one office to another if circumstances warrant.
Banking secrecy regulations have been changed with respect to the information that banks must release to fiscal inspectors. A bank will be required to identify persons holding signing authority over an account held in someone else’s name. When releasing account information to the authorities, the bank will be required to disclose account balances and the flow of funds into and out of an account, identifying the basis for the operation as well as the senders and recipients. The information to be disclosed in the case of bank loans has been increased. Reporting requirements have also been extended to cover insurance companies and intermediaries, pension funds, and savings and loan associations.
Persons employed at fiscal inspection units who have qualified as tax advisers will now be allowed to become fiscal inspectors upon meeting certain additional requirements provided for in the act. The inspector general may waive some of the statutory requirements in justified cases for persons who have been employed in tax administration for a certain minimum period.