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Names of „Tax Amnesty” Beneficiaries – Open to Media. The Constitutional Court Annulled the Provision That Limited This Right

23 January 2020
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The media will be able to obtain information about the beneficiaries of the Law on Voluntary Declaration and Tax Incentives known as Tax Amnesty Law after the provision that listed the entities with access to such data was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The decision was issued on December 12, 2019 after the High Court was notified by magistrates at the request of a non-governmental organization.
 
According to the annulled provision, only three entities were able to obtain information on the individuals who submitted declarations according to the Tax Amnesty Law: the National Integrity Authority (NIA), the Office for Prevention and Fight against Money Laundering (OPFML) and the holders of declarations themselves.
 
The Decision of the Court states that in examining cases concerning the access to information about Tax Amnesty Law, the State Tax Service and the courts shall take into account the importance of the requested information to a debate of public interest, the degree of reputation of individuals affected by the information requested, the content, form and consequences of the information and others. “The economic activity of the individuals who submitted tax declarations concerning the earned goods without declaring them on the date provided by law, cannot be considered a strictly private issue and cannot be excluded from the public space”, mentioned the document.  
 
The CC was notified on the matter by Chisinau District Court, Rascani office, at the request of the organization “Juristii pentru drepturile omului” [Lawyers for human rights]. In October 2018, the association requested the State Tax Service to provide information of public interest about the name of individuals who voluntarily declared, between August 17, 2018 and October 10, 2018, goods owned by them, their value, the total amount of taxes collected to the state budget following the declarations and the nominal list of the taxpayers who benefited from tax incentives.
 
The State Tax Service refused to provide the data invoking the article according to which the media and NGOs were not on the list of entities with the right of access. Lawyers for human rights challenged the answer in the court, which lodged the exception of unconstitutionality. Vitalie Zama, the representing lawyer of the argued that the provision is against the Constitution. “The article that was declared unconstitutional is void, it’s like it does not exist, and the court, when solving the case, should take into account the criteria presented by the Constitutional Court”, commented the lawyer about the decision of the Court.

Previously, Tatiana Puiu, media expert, stated that this provision of the new law contradicted the rights of the press stipulated in the tax law, thereby limiting the rights of journalists to access information.

The Law on Voluntary Declaration and Tax Incentives was adopted on July 27, 2018 and, entered into force on August 17. Voluntary declaration of goods ended on February 1, 2019. Also known as the Tax Amnesty Law, it allows declaring the assets and funds that have not been declared and taxed previously so that they can be legalized.