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Ceturtdiena 09.04.2020 | Name days: Valērija, Žubīte

State Audit: SRS should not «shake down» residents for information it already has

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe State Revenue Service (SRS) should not «shake down» residents and request submission of additional documents from them if they are already available in the database and their storage only puts more pressure on financial resources, said Latvian State Auditor Elita Krūmiņa in an interview to BNN about SRS and its bureaucratic burden.

Disabled pensioner – SRS still makes a mistake by not applying tax reliefs automatically

Krūmiņa notes that SRS remains in State Audits sights constantly – every year it is necessary to perform the tax revenue audit, where SRS is one of the ‘main players’. ‘During audits we look at the amount of collected taxes and types of duties. This also includes looking at the way SRS interacts with residents.’

«State Audit has never been in favour of creating a ‘bureaucracy machine’ in the country. Audits performed thus far show that SRS still has not come to the conclusion that what matters the most is the person,» says Krūmiņa.

«Often the situation in the service is that unless it is clearly written somewhere that the institution’s employee needs to do this and that a particular way, no one gives a second thought that it may be possible that the requested information is already in the institution’s hands. This is why they should not ask residents to submit necessary papers a second time. No thought is given to finding a solution to provide groups of residents all the benefits they are eligible to receive,» Krūmiņa describes SRS’ cooperation with residents.

The state auditor says auditors have looked at many different aspects, including the way tax reliefs are provided to disabled pensioners – if all the people who receive income tax reliefs understand the system and are able to react.

«It seems at first as though EUR 7 is not that much»

As an example, the state auditor mentioned a case from 2016 involving disabled pensioners. When it was found that after a disabled pensioner had failed to tick a specific box in their EDS profile benefits the person was eligible to receive were not provided. Because of that, the person lost an average of EUR 7 every month.

«What is seven euros, you might ask? However, considering the pension size of disabled pensioners, this is a considerable amount. Of course, had the pensioner known about the option to submit a declaration, he would have done that afterward. However, results of the audit showed that many other people had not done so. On top of that, seniors were not aware that a relevant tax relief was not applied to their pension.»

«The problem we had outlined at the time is that information about a pensioner’s disability could have been acquired through cooperation with other institutions, which could have easily ensured automatic application of reliefs.»

Krūmiņa says that the parliament had reacted quickly then and performed necessary changes to regulations, making it so that application of tax reliefs is to be performed automatically.

«Unfortunately, results of the audit we had performed in 2018 showed that although the law dictates automatic application of reliefs, there are still pensioners who do not receive them. Of course, one would ask – what is the problem now if regulations have been amended and they outline the necessary course of action?»

Conclusions from the State Audit outline a problem – institutions still cannot cooperate with one another. ‘State Social Insurance Agency, State Revenue Service and State Commission of Medical Examination of Health and Ability to Work cannot seem to work together. That they should do is sit down and discuss the problems and where there is a lack of information exchange. Why should the people suffer because three institutions cannot find a way to communicate?’

«Game rules» are equally binding for all sides

«Audits show that when a resident or businessman misses a payment, they are applied with penalties. However, in case when SRS is the one who is too slow with PIT or any other kind of repayment, no penalties are applied.»

This behaviour from the institution gives the wrong signal to society, notes Krūmiņa. Both sides should respect «game rules» equally.

Krūmiņa says SRS and other institutions should not make regulations too complicated and bureaucratic – they are related to good management practice just like any other action.

«This is a road worth walking. A goal to reach. The situation now is that nothing is clearly outlined movement toward better management is left ignored.»

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