07 July 2004

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Tax compliance unit targeting health care specialists

By Karl Schembri

Specialists in the medical field are under the Tax Compliance Unit’s microscope in an exercise that will hopefully lead to individual three-year tax agreements after a similar exercise with general practitioners has just been concluded.
Speaking to The Malta Business and Financial Times, Parliamentary Secretary in the Finance Ministry Tonio Fenech said that around 160 GPs had reached an agreement with TCU for the next three years.
He said the unit was holding discussions with specialists but agreements with such doctors would have to be more personalised given their varied specialisations, and every case will have to be treated on its own merits.
But the checks seem to be irritating the Medical Association of Malta, which feels doctors have been singled out. The association is calling for a similar treatment of other professionals and self-employed.
“Our position is that criteria should be fair for everyone,” said MAM Secretary General Dr Martin Balzan. “Of course, doctors should abide by the regulations, but the criteria should be clear. They cannot put everyone in the same boat.
“Doctors are not the only self-employed in Malta… we’re only 200 of some 34,000 self-employed (official statistics show there are 15,000) … it’s either everyone or nobody.”
Mr Fenech however rebuts such criticism by saying that the unit was looking at all professions although “one has to start from somewhere,” and that one could not apply a blanket agreement. He said that another sector targeted by the unit was that of mechanics.
Fenech said that those with whom the unit had reached tax agreements were now paying much more in tax than they previously paid, although he would not divulge any figures.
While discussions take place in the light of individual income tax declarations, other information available to the TCU is utilised although any agreement reached is strictly on a voluntary basis.
However, whenever there is evidence that a taxpayer could have under-declared income in the past, they are liable to be investigated further in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Acts.

karl@newsworksltd.com



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