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What you can learn by inspecting your tax file

The financial administration knows more about you than you think. For each taxpayer, the tax administrator keeps a file in which various documents are kept. Below, we summarise what you can find in your tax file and how to access it.

Unlike court files which are only kept for individual court proceedings, a tax file is kept for every taxpayer. This way, tax administrators collect information about the taxpayers: taxpayer submissions, tax administrator decisions, protocols, and official records. But that's not all – there may also be audio or video recordings in the file.

The file is structured by individual tax proceedings, namely taxable periods. Furthermore, it is divided into parts relating to the recovery of taxes, other obligations, or fines. One part of the file, however, remains hidden: the part relating to any search activities. There, the tax administrator keeps documents that can be used as evidence – and, logically, does not want to show their cards to the taxpayer before it has to.

Taxpayers have the right to inspect the file. As for the search part, however, they may only do so in justified cases, when necessary for the further course of proceedings, and if it does not jeopardise the objective of tax administration or the interest of another taxpayer or other persons. But even if the tax authority does not allow the taxpayers to inspect the concrete documents kept in that part of the file, it must still allow them to see a list of the documents kept in each part of the file. The taxpayer thus may inspect the list of the documents that the tax administrator wants to use against them. And, according to the Supreme Administrative Court’s case law, the list must clearly indicate what the concrete documents are so that the taxpayer can see whether these documents can be used as evidence. This means that the tax administrator has to show their cards a little bit, and the taxpayers can thus defend themselves in a more informed manner.

May a taxpayer come to see their file even without making an appointment with the relevant tax administrator? The law is clear here: if the tax administrator has office hours, they are obliged to allow the inspection of the file within those hours. The officer in charge of the file not being present at the office is not an obstacle to inspecting the file – another officer may step in. The tax administrator thus cannot dictate the conditions under which the file can be inspected. And if their office hours do not suit you? The tax administrator is obliged to allow access to the file even outside office hours. However, it is good practice to make an appointment – to ensure that the inspection of the file will run more smoothly and efficiently.

It may also be that taxpayers are too busy to travel to the tax administrator’s office, especially if they can’t be sure that inspecting the file will be of any use to them. There is a solution for such cases: the taxpayer may request a copy of or an extract from the list of documents in the file to find out what documents the tax administrator keeps about them and whether it is worthwhile inspecting the file. The taxpayer may also request the documents from the file to be sent to them via their data box. The first-time provision of the documents is free of charge, any subsequent sending is subject to a fee. Inspecting the file in person is always free of charge.