Recent media reports have claimed that a bill being considered by the US Congress would allow Jewish organisations to seek compensation for so-called heirless property and make other claims under the 2009 Terezin Declaration. While such fears are entirely imaginary, they represent a good opportunity to examine the Terezin Declaration and the state of its implementation in Poland.
The issue of Jewish heirless property is the most controversial aspect of the debate over finding a comprehensive regulatory solution for reprivatisation in Poland. The general legal principle calling for reversion of property to the state (escheat) if the owner dies without heirs is of little practical assistance in these matters.
In February 2017, the first notices began to appear in nationwide Polish newspapers and on the City of Warsaw website summoning legal successors of former owners of Warsaw properties to appear in reprivatisation proceedings and prove their rights—or the proceedings will be discontinued.
Acquirers of real estate often apply to the administrative authorities for a certificate on assertion of reprivatisation claims. Does this practice serve any purpose?
The issue of reprivatisation is currently being presented through the prism of numerous controversial aspects of restitution processes. This distorts the picture of reprivatisation, which in any event is a limited phenomenon in Poland.
Payments to the rightful owners of real estate taken over without legal grounds by the State Treasury or local governmental unit are subject to personal income tax as income “from other sources.” Whether the payments are subject to VAT depends on the specific circumstances.