Accounts court holds ‘IVAucher’ audit

“Very large discrepancy” between budgeted expenditure and what actually happened

Portugal’s Accounts Court (TdC) is conducting an audit of the government’s IVAucher programme, principally because it was a massive flop.

Judge Ana Leal Furtado explains there was “a considerable deviation” between budgeted spending and what was actually paid out.

The figures are very clear: €200 million was set aside for the scheme, of which (only) €38 million was actually spent.

Explains the judge, it is “more than a question of transparency, it is a question of quality of execution”.

“This is a structural issue”, she said that “deserves a lot of work”.

The IVAucher scheme was created last year to stimulate consumption in three of the sectors most affected by the pandemic. The idea was that consumers accumulated 100% of IVA (VAT) on expenses in restaurants, accommodation and culture, later being able to use them this value to pay up to 50% on further consumption in the same sectors.

But it didn’t really work. 

According to data from the finance ministry, consumers who joined the scheme left €11 million of accumulated balance ‘unused’. Fifteen per cent of this amount will now be “reversed as a deduction from the income tax collected from these taxpayers”.

An official source from the finance ministry told Lusa in February that the accumulated balance by consumers who joined the IVAucher was about €49.2 million, with refunds totalling about €38.2 million, “so the remainder is about €11 million”.

The same source added that the €200 million associated with the program “corresponds to the centralised allocation of the IVAucher subsidy.”

“This value was estimated, in a precautionary perspective, taking as a reference the total value of VAT on receipts – with or without any Tax Identification number – issued by companies in the accommodation, culture and catering sectors in the last quarter of 2019 (that is in the last pre-Covid quarter),” said the source.

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