Taxman defers ViaCTT fines, days after thousands of taxpayers receive ‘surprise’ penalty for not signing up

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 05-07-2018 14:04:00 · 0 Comments
Taxman defers ViaCTT fines, days after thousands of taxpayers receive ‘surprise’ penalty for not signing up

Scores of tax payers across Portugal will have opened their letter boxes in recent days to find fines from the Autoridade Tributária (Tax Authority), conveyed as an “administrative infringement proceeding”, for failing to sign up to the ViaCTT communication service which has apparently been a somewhat obscure compulsory requirement since 2012.

Many of the recipients will have rushed to their local Finanças branch to regularise the situation, only to see the fine “suspended” little over 24 hours after it made headlines.
A piece by newspaper Observador, published on Monday, stated tens of thousands of taxpayers had received the letter in recent days. The report went on to say that “dozens of taxpayers” hit out at the penalty, with many “guaranteeing that they were never given information on the need to make such registration nor to communicate it to the tax office”.
They were given 10 days from receiving the fine to pay it and sign up to ViaCTT, with fines ranging from €50 to €250, plus procedural costs.
Since 2012, taxpayers under IRC or periodic VAT payment regimes (loosely companies, associations and independent workers on ‘green receipts’ in a certain bracket) have had a month after entering these regimes to sign up to ViaCTT. But many are adamant they were never informed of this requirement.
However, a day after the fines hit headlines – and after many people had already scrambled to pay up and sign up – the Autoridade Tributária (AT) announced on Tuesday that it had decided to “suspend” the fine.
In a statement, the AT said the process “should not be the subject of any decision until an evaluation is completed and new guidelines are issued”.
Expat taxpayer Abi Davies, who was among the reported thousands to receive the fine, said: “When I went self employed two months ago I wasn’t told anything about this by the Finanças. I didn’t even know what it was until I had the fine come through the post and had to try and find out and understand what I was actually being fined for; even then I still wasn’t 100 percent clear until some friends helped me out”.
Miss Davies, 20, who lives in Cumeada, Silves, added: “I find it completely unfair considering that you either pay and can’t complain or get your money back; or you choose to complain and protest, delaying your payment of the fine and risk the chance of having to pay the maximum amount of the fine. Which at the time (considering we found out that it has been in place since 2012) it seemed like you would have to pay even if you decided to complain and protest”.

She stressed: “I feel that this is really unfair, especially since there was nothing said about it until there was suddenly this large fine that you had to pay or else it would just increase.
“If I had known I needed this ViaCTT electronic mailbox beforehand, I would have happily sorted it out without the need of the fine”.
The government has yet to address whether those who have already paid the fine will be reimbursed.
In the wake of the news, the AT had initially conceded that exemption from payment of the fine could be granted if registration was regularised and a “diminished degree of culpability” verified, before suspending it altogether shortly afterwards.
Contacted by Observador, the Ministry of Finance conveyed an explanation on behalf of the Tax Authority (AT), saying that “since the entry into force of the State Budget Law for 2012, the electronic CTT mailbox had become mandatory for a group of taxpayers (IRC and VAT taxable persons included under the normal regime, under article 19 of the General Tax Law), and the public electronic mail service is operated by CTT”.
The source assured that “the Tax Authority, prior to the introduction of the anti-administrative proceedings, sent e-mails to the taxpayers, informing them about the compulsory adhesion to the electronic mailbox”.
But it was not clear from the clarification exactly how many taxpayers were duly notified, Observador commented.
Nor is it currently known exactly how many people paid the fine before it was deferred.
ViaCTT is, according to the CTT website, a “safe and reliable electronic mail box, available via a secure Internet portal, which allows the reception of mail in digital format”.
The service is “complementary to physical mailboxes (traditional mail)” and “does not have any cost to the recipients”.
CTT are responsible for managing this electronic mail service, and “have the responsibility of linking the issuing entities and recipients, assuming, in the electronic world, the same role as traditional mail”, the site elaborates.
IRC taxpayers (companies, public entities, IPSS and associations) and taxable persons included under the normal VAT regime (who submit periodic VAT returns monthly or quarterly) are, since 2012, obliged to join Via CTT and to activate electronic notifications.
It became mandatory in these cases to register and activate electronic mailboxes within 30 days or be subject to a fine.


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