|Dorina Asllani Ndreka|
In November 2016, the Albanian parliament approved a large number of changes in one of the main laws regulating the activity of the tax authorities in the country, the Law on Tax Procedures.
The amendments affect several aspects of the tax authorities' procedures and mainly focus on, among other issues, transparency, increasing electronic communication between taxpayers and tax authorities, improving fiscal consequences for passive taxpayers, deregistration procedures, facilitating instalment payments already provided for by the law, self-correction of the tax declarations and the appeal process.
The amending law entered into force on December 1 2016.
As far as transparency is concerned, to guarantee a transparent and impartial tax administration, the changes oblige the general tax director to make public any decision taken within five days of its issuing. This is to be applicable to decisions that taxpayers request about the official position of the tax administration regarding the interpretation and implementation of the law in the specific circumstances of the taxpayer. The taxpayer data, however, are to be kept confidential.
Another step towards transparency is also the obligation of the general tax directorate to publish (on a six-month basis) informative bulletins that will include final decisions of the Administrative Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Constitutional Court, regarding tax issues, in order to inform the taxpayers and to unify the practices.
An additional important change that the law has introduced is the establishment of detailed and specific rules about the instalment tax payments procedure. In case the taxpayer faces financial difficulties, which prevent him from meeting his tax obligations on time, he is allowed to conclude an agreement for the payment through instalments. The taxpayer must demonstrate his financial inability to pay the tax obligation in full, and show that despite the financial issues, the company he represents will be able to comply with its legal obligations in the future.
The instalment payment agreement is done in writing, within 10 calendar days from the request submission. This agreement can be concluded only in cases where the taxpayer agrees to settle immediately at least 20% of the tax obligations, for which the agreement is concluded. The tax authorities can stipulate instalment agreements on tax obligations regarding tax assessments performed under Article 68 of the Tax Procedure Law, or self-declared tax obligations, with the exception of tax obligations that are withheld by the taxpayer, including social and health insurance contributions. In case the tax authorities have initiated the compulsory collection of the tax obligations, the mortgage or any other legal enforcement on the assets of the taxpayer shall not be removed. However, the taxpayer that has concluded an instalment agreement has the right to request the withdrawal of the order to seize bank accounts. The initiation by the tax authorities of the mandatory auctions of the taxpayers' assets, in order to achieve the legal enforcement of the tax obligations, impedes the conclusion of the instalment agreement.
The instalment payments option is not a new provision, but the new law gives specific details, making it more applicable in practice. If this method is applied on a large scale, it will help taxpayers that are in difficult financial situations and will increase the likelihood of tax collection.
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