How can we contribute to improving our fiscal culture?
EVERYTIME PORTUGAL has a new government, there is one goal each wish to achieve, which is to change the country’s economic situation. This obviously affects the competitiveness of the small and medium companies.
In July, the government approved several measures to fight fiscal evasion. When considering all those measures, we can ask ourselves if it is fair to penalise all fiscal contributors rather than simply identifying those who are evading. Shouldn’t the fiscal authorities just find the guilty parties and penalise them?
Quite often we hear people say that justice is blind and, therefore, fiscal justice can also be characterised as being blind by those taxpayers who comply with the law. And, how can each contributor in Portugal, by paying his/her taxes, play a part in changing our fiscal culture? By reporting any fraudulent situations they know of?
One measure that was recently approved was that those who owe money to the government or whom have been convicted of a fiscal crime, will be placed on a blacklist at the Finanças. Everyone can read that list and, therefore, discover that his/her neighbour is on the list, or their boss, or any other person for that matter.
We can ask ourselves another question: how should the government bring about changes in Portugal’s fiscal culture? It’s hard to find just one answer. By creating the so-called blacklist, the Finanças want to persuade people not to resist paying their taxes, via a name and shame policy, which is basically being done by threatening public humiliation.
One measure to fight fiscal evasion is to inspect businesses and individuals more often and, at the moment, the Finanças and Segurança Social are working together to recover money from companies and enterprises in individual names.
They are going to increase the number of inspections, paying particular attention to construction companies, football clubs, security companies and cleaning companies.
Is inspecting a way to change our fiscal culture? Sometimes we even hear about companies that have both opened and closed without being inspected.
One measure taken a few years ago was that all companies are now obliged to file their accounts at the Conservatória. Everyone can ask for information at the Conservatória, but only if the company concerned delivered the file. For the future, the government is going to oblige all companies to deposit an attachment with fiscal information.
The first measure was taken to appeal to all companies to reveal their figures properly, but the ones that don’t file their accounts are not respecting the law. Unfortunately, the Conservatória doesn’t have the means to punish them properly or swiftly, as the system has not been prepared to allow a quick response.
Right now, the records held at Conservatórias are being computerised, but updating all the information will take a long time. When they are ready to punish the companies concerned, some of them will probably already have closed.
Will our culture change due to legislation or through education? And what aboutfiscal culture?