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Customs and fiscal audits in Poland

19.12.2022
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Customs and fiscal audits in Poland have become more frequent recently, and this is not yet the tip of the iceberg… Each letter or notice, informing of the initiation of audit proceedings, usually generates negative emotions of all units subject to the audit. Anxiety and even fear accompany entrepreneurs when they receive news of the need to make additional clarifications to their tax returns reporting the past months..

However, not all customs and fiscal audits involve the obligation to file a correction or surcharge of input tax. If they keep their ledgers, reliably, they do not need to feel uncertainty from the call they receive. However, in the main past pandemic period, the number of customs and fiscal audits is increasing, and experts believe the number will continue to grow.

Customs and fiscal audits in 2021 and 2022

According to the Ministry of Finance, 1967 customs and fiscal audits were initiated in the first half of this year in Poland. This is 14.3% more than in the same period of 2021, where 1,721 such activities were carried out.

According to experts, such a percentage increase seems quite significant, but it is directly related to the post-pandemic period. The increase in audits should therefore not come as a surprise. The comparative figures cover a period filled with restrictions and limitations, as well as a period associated with the lifting of the so-called lockdowns. In recent years, there has also been significant automation of processes for customs and fiscal audits, which translates into earlier detection of potential violations. This is related to solutions introducing online cash registers, obligations to file  JPK files or the expansion of the  IT System of the Clearing House (ITSCH) (Polish abbrev. STIR). As a result, the tax authorities are reacting much sooner than they did several years after the incorrect settlement occurred.

The table below presents the number of customs and fiscal audits conducted in 2021 and 2022 and the year-on-year percentage change:

Customs and fiscal audits
20222021Y/Y change
Customs and Tax Office Szczecin13658134,5%
Customs and Tax Office Katowice1035780,7%
Customs and Tax Office Poznań1649278,3%
Customs and Tax Office Kielce373023,3%
Customs and Tax Office Warszawa25322114,5%
Customs and Tax Office Kraków15514010,7%
Customs and Tax OfficeToruń1721607,5%
Customs and Tax Office Biała Podlaska241294-18,0%
Customs and Tax Office Białystok4049-18,4%
Customs and Tax Office Gorzów Wielkopolski5875-22,7%

The data made available shows that in the first half of this year the largest number of customs and fiscal audits were initiated by the Customs and Tax Office Warszawa – 253 a year earlier – 221), but the largest year-on-year percentage increase occurred in Szczecin, it should be noted here that the actions taken concern a small proportion of entities, as only 136 audits were carried out out out out of almost 63,000 companies and institutions registered in CEIDG (Business Register and Inquiries).

In addition, the data presented in the report shows that 1,953 customs and fiscal audits were completed in the first half of 2022. Positively completed audits were as high as 1802 (92.3%), compared to last year in this statistic is also noticeable increase from 89% – 1359 total and 1210 positive audits.

Increase in effectiveness of audits-impact

The increase in the efficiency of customs and fiscal audits carried out is a very good thing, experts say. As a result of increasingly better typing of entities, legitimate companies need not fear such actions, as nearly 93% of inspections indicate violations. Circumstances in which the effectiveness of audits is at a high level can be reassuring for compliant entities. These companies will not operate in a state of uncertainty, which will have a positive impact on the entire market. In the wake of tax specialists, it should be emphasized that this is unfortunately more of a wish than a reality.

According to the data presented, in the first half of 2022, the arrangements brought nearly PLN 4.3 billion to the state budget. This was 44.2% more than at the same time last year, where their value was less than PLN 3 billion. According to the analysis, the Customs and Tax Offices mainly inspect entrepreneurs, and consequently the largest backlogs are in those regions where the number of companies is the highest. From the point of view of the state budget, the level of arrears determined by Customs and Tax Office does not mean much. Mainly due to the fact that taxpayers can appeal against the decision issued, as well as the level of efficiency of tax debt enforcement initiated, which in previous years, according to experts, was certainly not satisfactory, is of great importance here.

Analysts predict with a high degree of certainty that the number of customs and fiscal audits will increase year after year. Officials, willingly or not, will try to make sure that the funds coming into the budget are increasing. In a period of an increasingly weak economy, rampant inflation, the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine, entities may break existing regulations in order to end up paying less in taxes.

In the coming years, therefore, we should expect automating legislative changes that will serve to detect violations in the most real-time possible. These will mainly be the more elaborate JPK structures that the tax authorities will require, as well as the voluntary online invoices introduced at the beginning of 2022, heading towards the issue of mandatory in future years.

Admittedly, this does not necessarily mean that customs and fiscal audits will become even more frequent. To a large extent, these tools will allow the fiscal to take actions of a less offensive nature, such as audit activities. The question arises, however, whether budget authorities will be willing to partner with taxpayers whose inadvertent mistakes may not carry the criteria of a crime.

Author: Łukasz Krówka, Accountant at MDDP Outsourcing.