LM40 million more with TCU around
Acting as the intelligence arm of various tax collecting departments,
the Tax Compliance Unit is expected to increase Government revenue by
Lm40 million over a five year period in recouped taxes.
Finance Minister John Dalli, yesterday said that the time when government
was impotent in front of tax evasion was over. "It is time for
this country to have a culture where everyone pays his due and respects
the tax laws. The main thrust of the TCU is to instil a new mentality
rather then act as a tax policeman."
The Tax Compliance Unit will be fully operational by the years
end and initially the unit will be gathering information from five different
Access to the electronic systems of the public registry, the customs
department, the VAT department, the licensing department and the Malta
Financial Services registry of companies will enable the TCU to
create a profile of taxpayers.
The second phase of the project will see the TCU having access to additional
departments and institutions to enable the unit to retrieve data related
to trading licenses, registered boats at the Maritime Authority, bank
interest on funds held in foreign accounts, capital transfer duty paid
and accounting systems.
The data obtained will enable the TCU to cross check income tax declarations
with other sources in a bid to weed out tax evaders.
Minister Dalli made it clear that despite the extensive data-gathering
function, the TCU would not be able to investigate individual taxpayers.
Once the TCU gathers the data and highlights discrepancies in an individuals
declarations the information is then passed on to the relevant tax authorities
to carry on their investigation according to current tax regulations.
Mr Dalli added that the relationship between the taxpayer and the relevant
departments will remain a personal one, ruling out mass witch hunts
on categories of individuals.
The current system in place has the ability to issue taxpayer profiles
on all individuals every three months. However, the TCU will not be
profiling each and every taxpayer every month. The important message
relayed by the TCU is that it has the capability to profile anybody
Apart from issuing reports on its own accord, the TCU could be asked
by government departments such as VAT and customs to provide profiles
on suspected tax evaders.
The TCU is currently investigating 36 cases. Almost half of them have
been concluded and the reports will soon be passed on to the relevant
tax authorities to take action.
When asked, the head of the TCU Paul Barbara, said that the electronic
systems in place were constructed with privacy laws in mind. "The
implementation team included an expert on privacy law to ensure that
privacy legislation is respected. Furthermore, within the TCU itself
access is controlled and restricted with each computer having an electronic
audit trail," Mr Barbara said.
Mr Barbara explained that during the first two quarters of 2002 the
TCU will focus on developing a modus operandi for continually
updating the data in its databases and give feedback to the different
departments providing the information.