Officials appeal for clarity on tax overhaul as finance ministry launches chat service

Poland’s finance ministry has set up a live chat service to help explain its recent tax overhaul after officials appealed for clarity on how to implement the new rules, which they say were introduced without proper preparation.

The changes were made at the start of this year as part of the government’s flagship “Polish Deal” programme, with promises that most Poles would either benefit or not be affected by the new, more progressive tax system.

However, teething problems have resulted in some public employees seeing their pay packets in January shrink, leading the government to last week apologise and promise to fix the issues.

Meanwhile, the Związkowa Alternatywa trade union at the National Tax Administration (KAS) has issued a letter to the prime minister and finance minister to signal their “outrage” and “deep concern” at the implementation of the changes.

They accuse officials of preparing the new measures “hastily”, with a “very short” period before their announcement and them entering into force. They also said that the reform lacked “proper state preparation for its implementation”.

The unions claim that KAS employees had not been informed in advance about interpretation of the new tax rules, and that clarity on “many key issues” is still missing.

“The government sends contradictory signals,” they wrote. “We are not able to confidently inform citizens about the new solutions since the highest representatives of the government are not convinced of how to interpret them and what their final shape will be”.

The letter suggests that the finance ministry should operate an information point to receive queries on the changes until 7 p.m. daily, as the working hours of tax offices will be extended until that time starting from today.

Speaking to Polska Times, finance minister Tadeusz Kościński said that from 8 January it had started offering live chat services seven days a week for those with queries. The ministry has “strengthened the staffing of its Polish Deal hotline” and “systematically” publishes information on its websites, he said.

Government spokesman Piotr Müller added on Saturday that “every major reform faces challenges”, which need to be addressed on an “ongoing basis”, and that the tax overhaul “is the largest [such] reform in 20 years”.

Main image credit: OECD/Mariano Bordon (under CC BY-NC 2.0)

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