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The judgment was delivered in the case of a client in the industrial packaging sector in a dispute with the tax administration authorities over taxation of intra-Community supplies of goods at the 0% VAT rate. The SAC judgment may be significant for taxpayers conducting disputes centred on good faith and due care.
Experts from the Tax Practice have successfully represented a client in the industrial packaging sector in a dispute over the taxation of intra-Community supplies of goods at the 0% VAT rate. The authorities questioned the taxpayer’s right to apply this rate due to alleged lack of good faith and due care in the disputed transactions.
In three judgments, the Supreme Administrative Court overturned the decisions of the first instance court and the second instance authority, sharing the client's view that the tax authorities had not properly analysed the evidence. First of all, the SAC pointed out that the taxpayer's good faith and due care should be viewed taking into account that the transaction model challenged by the authorities had previously been verified in tax audits and that the tax audit reports had confirmed that the company's tax settlements were correct. The SAC indicated that, in this situation, unless significant changes had been made to the transaction model, the taxpayer could act on the basis of trust in the assessment made by the tax authorities in the audit reports.
The judgment shows that the tax authorities must take responsibility for their previous actions, i.e. tax audits and their findings. The fact that audit reports do not have the weight of res judicata does not mean that they can be disregarded when assessing the good faith and due care of the taxpayer. The SAC judgment appears to be of a precedential nature, as earlier the courts (and in this case the court of first instance) had not attached any importance to the verification of the transaction made by the tax authorities for taxpayers prior to the proceedings involving the dispute.
The SAC judgment may be crucial for taxpayers in disputes with the tax authorities which are based on good faith and due care, where, before certain transactions were challenged, they had been verified by the tax authorities in other procedures, particularly during tax audits.
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