We are pleased to announce that our tax team has won a very interesting and, at the same time, landmark judgment in our client’s case that concerned refusal to declare an overpayment in real estate tax.
The Provincial Administrative Court (WSA) in Białystok, in its judgment of 28 October 2020 (I SA/Bk 523/20) http://orzeczenia.nsa.gov.pl/doc/7A6D724EE3, fully shared the arguments of the tax team of Radzikowski, Szubielska i Wspólnicy composed of Piotr Karwat, Dorota Szubielska and Mateusz Kornacki, centred around the Anti-Crisis Shield effective from 31 March 2020 to 16 May 2020.
It follows from the statement of reasons for the judgment in question that the decision was made as the Court held that two pleas raised should be upheld.
On the one hand, the Court ruled that since during the state of the epidemic the Anti-Crisis Shield provides for the possibility of issuing only decisions that fully grant the party’s request (Article 15zzs(9) of the Anti-Crisis Shield), then a contrario the possibility of issuing decisions that rule differently on (are negative for) the party’s interest has been excluded. Based on the above, the Court concluded that since the Anti-Crisis Shield was enacted in order to help, among others, business operators in difficult times of the epidemic, such help is also manifested in limiting the possibility of issuing administrative decisions against them that are contrary to their interest (request). Therefore, in the opinion of the Court, the authority examining the case should refrain from disposing of the matter in a negative way at least until the state of the epidemic is over.
Secondly, the Court ruled that pursuant to Article 15zzs(1)(7) of the Anti-Crisis Shield, during the state of the epidemic, procedural time limits do not start running in proceedings and audits conducted on the basis of the Tax Ordinance Act, and if such a time limit has already started running – it becomes suspended for that period of time. In view of the above standard, the Court shared the view of the applicant that – due to the ongoing state of the epidemic – the 7-day time limit set by the authority and resulting from Article 200 § 1 of the Tax Ordinance Act could not start running. In connection with the above, the Court came to the conclusion that in such a situation there is no possibility of issuing an administrative decision until the state of the epidemic is over, because in any case it would be issued before the expiry of the time limit set by the tax authority for the party to comment on the evidence gathered in the case – thus, it would be issued prematurely.
The above judgment may be the beginning of an emerging approach in court rulings that allows taxpayers to challenge negative decisions that deny the taxpayers’ requests which were issued in the period from 31 March to 16 May 2020. The attitude of the Court should be appreciated, as in its ruling the Court referred not only to the literal wording of the provisions, but also had in mind their purpose and function.