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Unclear pleadings of debtors subject to a tax enforcement procedure

07. 08. 2019

The tax authority attached the entire balance of salary paid to a debtor by his former employer. The authority treated a pleading whereby the debtor questioned the lawfulness of this procedure as an objection. However, the deadline for filing an objection (30 days) had already expired, and it therefore rejected the objection without material review. In fact, the pleading should have been treated as an application for discontinuing the enforcement procedure.

In respect of another debtor (File No. 2829/2017/VOP), the tax authority collected money from an account in which the debtor received the unattachable part of his salary (following deductions made within an enforcement procedure). The authority treated a complaint filed against further attachment of such money as an objection and dismissed it without proper justification. Based on a further complaint, it eventually checked the origin of the money and discontinued the enforcement procedure.

A pleading always has to be evaluated according to its actual contents (regardless of the designation). A debtor can defend him/herself against the procedure taken by the tax administrator in a tax enforcement procedure especially by filing an objection (within 30 days of the notice of the relevant act) or through an application for discontinuing the enforcement procedure (during the procedure). The tax administrator cannot arbitrarily choose the regime for dealing with a pleading. Quite the contrary, the administrator must follow a procedure that will enable material review of the objections.

The Ombudsman discussed these cases with the General Tax Directorate, which then issued, on 13 March 2019, a methodological guideline based on which the tax administrator will always assess the lawfulness of a tax enforcement procedure following material review of the debtor’s objections.

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