THE Spanish Tax Office has come under heavy fire from a select group of 35 tax and law professors for what they consider an ‘inquisitorial’ approach to tax-collection.
The experts, who met in Granada a few days ago, showed no sympathy for a state organization that ‘bullies’ taxpayers into submission by flouting principles like presumption of innocence, juridical and legal security and equality.
The declaration signed by the legal experts touches on various aspects:
– Gradual conversion of the role of a taxpayer into a ‘tax servant’.
– Excessive zeal for aggressive tax collection campaigns -perceived as unfair and unjust- that are producing a deterioration of legal security.
– Higher tax tolerance for multinational companies who, due to their unlimited resources, can dramatically reduce their tax exposure in Spain. The document refers to online giant retailers that avoid taxes by distorting the interpretation of ‘geographical’ location in revenue legislation (and get away with it).
– ‘Cantonization’ of the Spanish tax system by reference to the notable differences, or discriminations, between different Spanish territories.
– Usurpation by the Government of tax legislative functions, in detriment of the Parliament’s functions.
Far from easing their grip on taxpayers the Spanish Revenue System, commonly known as ‘Hacienda’, has upped the ante by finalizing the drafting of a Code of Good Conduct where tax advisors and lawyers handling tax affairs will be held jointly liable with their clients, in cases of fraud and evasion.
Whilst many see in the Spanish Tax Office a tyrannical entity intent on extorting wealth from law-abiding citizens, others see this as the price to pay to become a full ‘Western’ nation in control of its people. As George Washington states more than two centuries ago:
“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”