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Damages for tax office errors: amicus sent to ECtHR

The Helsinki Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief with the European Court of Human Rights, presenting an analysis of the tax system of Poland, with a focus on the damages recoverable from the State Treasury for a defective tax decision.

The HFHR showed to the European Court of Human Rights Polish realities, in which taxpayers, after long battles with state institutions, are unable to obtain compensation, even if actions of tax authorities put them at risk of a substantial loss.

“In our brief, we emphasised a significant disparity between the number of complaints submitted to administrative courts, number of judgments favourable to taxpayers and the number of actions brought against the State Treasury. A conclusion can be drawn that, in the majority of cases, taxpayers are satisfied with having a faulty tax decision removed from circulation and do not go any further”, observes Dr Adam Ploszka, a legal expert of the HFHR.

Statistics also show that among a tiny number of lawsuits seeking to remedy a loss inflicted by a tax decision, most cases for compensation from the State Treasury ends in a taxpayer’s failure.

“An analysis of the procedure for claiming damages from the State Treasury and statistics on the cases registered in the State Treasury Solicitors’ Office begs the conclusion that the significance of the action for compensation from the State Treasury for defective tax decisions is, in practice, negligible”, Dr Ploszka adds.

The HFHR presented the brief relating to the communication of Andrzej Ruciński’s application to the Polish Government (no. 22716/12).

The original version of the brief (in English) may be read here.


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