Interview with Mr. Gelu Stefan Diaconu, President of A.N.A.F.
What is your plan for combatting tax evasion? Can you elaborate on the new structure that became operational at the end of last year?
In order to combat tax evasion and fiscal fraud we promote a quality operative control targeting the sectors with high risk of fraud, by bringing to maximum operational capacity the general department against fiscal fraud, with emphasis on dismantling the organised transactional rings that want to avoid fiscal obligations. In brief, this form of action of macro-crime is characterised by the qualified participation of several (natural and/or legal) persons which act for giving an appearance of legality, by issuing invoices and other fictive justificatory documents, formally complying to the obligation of submitting fiscal statements and making payments through bank instruments, which have as finality cash withdrawals justified by documents that have nothing to do with reality.
The general department against fiscal fraud has a close collaboration with the criminal prosecution institutions in all the cases instrumented at central and/or regional scale, also in organised framework, by forming joint operative squads. In order to raise the degree of efficiency and effectiveness of the actions aimed at fighting tax evasion, the fraud combatting department of the central structure of the general department against fiscal fraud provides specialised technical support to prosecutors during the investigation of economic-financial crimes. With this regard, the antifraud inspectors of this department are detached to prosecutors’ offices.
Until now, the inspectors specialised in the fight against fiscal fraud verified over 12,000 taxpayers and found misdemeanours that were punished with sanctions worth approximately RON 205 M in total (EUR 45.6 M), representing fines and confiscated goods, sums of cash and incomes with illicit source. They also ordered the suspension of operations for 722 economic units, mainly for the non-observance of legal regulations on the possession and use of fiscal electronic cash registers and of commercial norms. Following these verifications, 68 complaints were submitted to institutions in charge with the prosecution of crimes, for a total loss estimated at approximately RON 420 M (EUR 93.2 M), the targeted sectors being the acquisition and distributions of fruits and vegetables, fuels, medicines and electronics. In view of securing the recovery of the losses caused by the investigated cases, securing measures were instated on patrimonial assets worth approximately RON 326 M (EUR 72.4 M).
The results mentioned in this interview were achieved as the general department against fiscal fraud was partially made operational, with only 1,300 of the total 2,000 approved posts being occupied, of which 172 antifraud inspectors of the fraud combatting departments were detached to the General prosecutor’s Office, in view of improving the degree of solving the cases instrumented by criminal prosecution institutions.
What activity sectors have the highest risk of tax evasion?
The activity sectors that have a high fiscal risk are intra-community acquisitions, production, import and sale of excise-bearing products (alcohol and alcoholic drinks, energy products, processed tobacco), agrifood products (vegetables, fruits, meat products and raw meat, bread and pastry). We grant a particular attention to the sectors with a high fiscal risk and also to the risk profiles of the taxpayers that are active in these sectors and are involved in fictive transactions with these products. Thus, this complex approach targets mainly the taxpayers which pose a high fiscal risk, the defrauding methods they use and the fiscal obligations pertaining to the conducted operations and the goods or services involved in fictive transactions.
What can you tell us about verifying very wealthy taxpayers?
Under its own strategy, the National Agency of Fiscal Administration launched a programme of improving the fiscal compliance of very wealthy natural persons and of those with high incomes. The programme refers to a risk-based approach of the fiscal compliance problems attached to this category of taxpayers, as it aims at knowing and understanding the aspects that characterise the analysed segment, articulating the specific fiscal risks and identifying, defining and enforcing the most efficient and effective treatments for improving the collection rate. The programme refers to approximately 400 persons, in a first phase.
Out of the 30 preliminary fiscal verifications conducted in 2013, 26 have been finalised so far and in the near future 11 natural persons will be asked to provide justificatory documents (including the patrimony and income statement) or pertinent clarifications, as significant differences were found between the incomes estimated from the personal fiscal situation determined on the occasion of verifications and their declared incomes. For the 11 natural persons who will be demanded justificatory documents and relevant clarifications, the total differences found between estimated incomes and declared incomes amount to approximately EUR 30 M.
Fiscal risk analyses are currently conducted for the whole lot of very wealthy natural persons targeted by the fiscal compliance improvement programme, in view of further identifying the problems which affect fiscal compliance and the adequate treatments/actions, which treatments include the start of new fiscal verifications.
This year, we will render operational all the fiscal verification compartments that were newly created in each county administration of public finance, dedicated to this activity.
Do you plan to attend, in 2014 too, the general assembly of fiscal administrations, an annual event aimed at strengthening the cooperation between the fiscal administrations of the EU? And what were the conclusions of the assembly held last year?
The theme of the event organised by A.N.A.F. in Bucharest, in 2013, was’ The management of performance.’ The event facilitated the exchange of information, experience and transfer of good practices of fiscal administration in the performance management sector. In this context, participants presented in plenum the experiences of fiscal authorities of Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Romania and Spain, as well as the latest works and approaches in the field of the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.
Presentations and discussions led to the conclusion that European fiscal administrations have two major preoccupations in this difficult economic context, which are encouraging voluntary compliance, on one hand, and orienting administrative processes toward finding and combatting fiscal fraud and evasion on the other.
In the current activity of fiscal administrations can be remarked the enforcing of compliance strategies and an approach based on risk management. All fiscal administrations make considerable efforts for obtaining performance by providing better services to taxpayers and finding and sanctioning those taxpayers which do not comply with their fiscal obligations.
I will decide on the participation of A.N.A.F. in the 2014 general assembly of fiscal administration after receiving the formal invitation for this event, depending on the date set for the meeting and the agenda for the respective period. But the A.N.A.F. delegation will certainly be represented at high level.