According to the Supreme Administrative Court, the suspension of administrative deadlines applicable at the beginning of the pandemic does not apply to the limitation periods for tax liabilities. – Wrong decisions of the tax office will be eliminated from legal circulation and considered null and void. Entrepreneurs can now challenge them and demand a refund – comments Jakub Warnieło, a tax expert at MDDP.
On March 27, 2023, the Supreme Administrative Court, composed of seven judges, issued a resolution that is extremely important for entrepreneurs, informs the Tuesday edition of “Puls Biznesu”. The case was initiated by a legal question by three judges of the Supreme Administrative Court in October last year. At that time, the Supreme Administrative Court considered the taxpayer’s cassation appeal against the judgment of the voivodship administrative court dismissing the appeal against the decision of the head of the Łódź Customs and Tax Office on the tax on goods and services for the end of 2015.
In the contested decision, the Tax Office decided that the taxpayer must settle his liability, because in the meantime the limitation period for VAT liabilities for October and November 2015 was suspended. normal rules should take place after five years.
The decision of the office referred to the provision of the Act on special solutions related to the prevention, counteraction and combating of COVID-19. According to this regulation, “during the period of the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic announced due to COVID-19, the course of time limits provided for in the provisions of administrative law (…) does not start, and the started period is suspended”.
As calculated, this provision was in force for over 70 days at the beginning of the pandemic – from March 14 to May 23, 2020. It was repealed by an amendment to the laws on protective measures in connection with the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Doubts about taxes
During the consideration of the case, doubts arose to what extent tax regulations are part of the administrative law referred to in the provision. In a question from three judges of the Supreme Administrative Court, it was indicated that the presented issue raises serious doubts and is important not only for the examination of the cassation complaint, in connection with which it was formulated, but also “other cases pending resolution by the Supreme Administrative Court, where the administrative courts of the first instance assessed the application of this provision by the tax authorities.
He developed this thread in his position for the NSA from several days ago Ombudsman. He noted that practice has shown that the disputed provision “was applied by the tax authorities in a non-uniform, even instrumental way, so as to finally achieve the pro-fiscal goal”.
Resolution of the Supreme Administrative Court
In a resolution responding to this issue, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Monday that the disputed provision of the Act on special solutions related to COVID-19 in the wording applicable at the beginning of the pandemic “does not apply to the suspension, commencement and suspension of the limitation period for tax liabilities”.
According to the Supreme Administrative Court, the separateness of this branch of law “is also supported by the concept of the autonomy of tax law, which concerns the need to use phrases characteristic of it only in the context of this particular field of law”.
Therefore, according to the Supreme Administrative Court, since the tax law is not explicitly and unequivocally mentioned in the disputed provision, “it should be recognized that it must not be added or clarified to the interpreter”.
Entrepreneurs can demand a refund
— The tax authorities claimed that the Covid law suspended the limitation period for tax liabilities. This meant that they issued a lot of adjustment decisions after the standard 5-year limitation period for tax liabilities had expired. Thanks to this resolution of the Supreme Administrative Court, which is favorable for taxpayers, bad decisions of the tax office will be eliminated from the legal system and considered null and void. Entrepreneurs can now challenge them and demand a refund. The resolution is binding for both the tax office and the administrative courts, says Jakub Warnieło, a tax expert at MDDP, in an interview with “Puls Biznesu”.
Also according to Mariusz Korzeba, a tax expert of the Federation of Polish Entrepreneurs, the resolution eliminates any doubts in this matter and prevents further disputes between entrepreneurs and tax authorities.
– Anyone who has received an unfavorable decision of the tax office after the five-year limitation period has expired, can now challenge it to the administrative court, which must overturn it – explains Korzeb.
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