25 years in prison for tax crimes in Poland

Since March 1, 2017 amendment of Polish Criminal Code shall come into force adding new categories of crimes  such as issuing, counterfeiting and remaking fictitious invoices in order to use them as genuine. In an official statement, the office of the Polish President said that the purpose of the Act is to introduce into national law a number of new instruments of criminal law aimed at combating the practice of extortion VAT refunds to the detriment of the State Treasury.

Under the new law, if a false invoice used to defraud the VAT refund relates to goods or services with a value exceeding 5 million, the crime is punishable by 3 to 15 years imprisonment. If the value of the goods or services identified in the false invoices will exceed 10 million zlotys, the offense will be punishable by 25 years imprisonment.

Apart from the threat of imprisonment for years, imposed a penalty of 25 years imprisonment implies a wide range of problems and limitations to the accused. When used by the Court of extraordinary mitigation of punishment cannot be imposed less than 8 years, while the conditional release cannot take place before 15 years. After using of parole, probation period is 10 years, while the expungement is possible after the next 10 years counted from the time of its execution or reprieve.

Polish Penal Code enumerates offenses punishable by 25 years imprisonment. They are located in the following chapters of the special part of it:

  • Chapter XVI “Crimes against peace, humanity and war crimes” – e.g. The extermination of the population, the use of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Chapter XVII “Crimes against the Polish Republic” – e.g. Espionage, assassination of the President of Poland.
  • Chapter XIX “Crimes against life and health” – e.g. Murder, or its qualified form.
  • Chapter XXXVII “Offences against money and securities” – the only crime of this chapter is the counterfeiting of means of payment and securities.

The project authors emphasize that the enactment of this Act, reveals a new, more stringent approach to punish the offenders of tax law, which stems from the belief of the legislator that the ailment of the penalties previously applied didn’t match in any way to the size of the damage caused.

Opponents of the tightening of the upper limit of the penalty emphasize that important step in the fight against tax crimes is a reorganization of administration and changes in the nature of the inspections carried out, and increase penalties for tax crimes seem to be activity aimed at benefit primarily political.