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Editorial - Less annoying

Don't kill the messenger, but there are persistent complaints within the business community about the functioning of the local Tax Inspectorate. For starters, people regularly receive a number of assessments for turnover tax forms/payments from the previous year(s) that they actually submitted/paid on time, before the due date on 15th of every month.

On each occasion these employers must spend time and energy preparing a written protest and standing in line at the Tax Office to submit it, then wait for the Inspectorate to process the related reduction/cancellation. In one example a company received four such assessments, all dated March 20, but this time also received the related reductions/cancellations dated March 27, only days later, without having to submit protests.

Some also received reminders from the Receiver's Office of assessments from the Tax Inspectorate they had never received. There was a case in which the business received the assessment days after a marshal passed by and it was not stamped by the Post Office either. The marshal simply was shown the proof that everything had been paid in time and was given copies, after which he left.

The greatest frustration seems to be over the time it takes to prepare all those objection letters with the information and copies attached. Every objection must be submitted at the Inspectorate of Taxes, but also at the Receiver's Office and get a stamp from both departments as proof. In several cases the backlog keeps growing, because the Tax Department continues to make these mistakes.

The whole state of affairs is considered offensive, while it also entails a considerable waste of government resources by having civil servants preparing and sending out totally unnecessary/invalid assessments. Subsequently public officials again spend time preparing and sending out the related reductions/cancellations, never mind the materials used in both processes such as paper, envelopes, postage, etc., all at the cost of taxpayer.

There have even been questions whether this is simply a matter of incompetency or some kind of chicanery for which the innocent are made to suffer. Others think the Tax Department may be trying to beef up the "receivables" it can report for the country's annual budget to satisfy requirements of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT.

If it regards incompetent civil servants, the feeling is that they should be trained properly, placed in positions more fitting their abilities, or fired, but not paid good money to do unnecessary, wasteful work. Possible chicanery should be investigated and the CFT should take careful note of this matter too, as it relates to possible integrity issues.

The fear is also that a large part of Government's financial deficit may be related to this kind of incompetence/inefficiency or whatever it is, not only in the Tax Department, but in other government agencies as well. Let's face it, nobody likes paying taxes, but surely something can be done to make it less stressful and annoying.

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