In its judgment of September 25, 2014 (case file no. K 49/12), the Constitutional Tribunal found that Article 14(o) §1 of the Tax Ordinance, construed to mean that “failure to issue a tax ruling” is not tantamount to a tax ruling not being issued to the taxpayer within the three-month deadline prescribed in Article 14(d) of the Tax Ordinance, is consistent with the principle of the citizens’ trust in the state and the laws promulgated by the state that is implied by Article 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.
Art. 14(o) §1 of the Tax Ordinance provides that if no tax ruling is issued by the three-month deadline referred to in Article 14(d), it shall be assumed on the day following the day on which the said deadline expires that a tax ruling was in fact issued approving the position proposed by the applicant in its entirety. This regulation is obviously beneficial to taxpayers in situations when the competent authority is late in issuing the requested tax ruling.
The point of contention in this case was whether the tax ruling to be issued by the deadline provided for in Article 14(d) of the Tax Ordinance must also have been delivered to the taxpayer by this deadline. This controversy was resolved earlier by the Supreme Administrative Court which held in its resolution of December 14, 2009 (case no. II FPS 7/09) that in light of the laws in force after July 1, 2007 the reference to “failure to issue the tax ruling” in Article 14(o) §1 of the Tax Ordinance is not a reference to any failure to deliver the tax ruling within three months from the receipt of the application referred to in Article 14(d) of the Tax Ordinance. The Court found in this ruling that the issuance of a tax ruling is a procedural action of a public administration authority, involving the signing of a tax ruling containing all the elements the law requires it to contain and taking steps to ensure its service. The service itself was deemed by the Court to be a separate action, distinct from the issuance of the tax ruling concerned.
The Constitutional Tribunal now ruled that this interpretation of Article 14(o) §1 of the Tax Ordinance is constitutional. The Tribunal’s judgment appears to provide definitive confirmation that for a tax ruling to be issued within the deadline prescribed by statutory law it does not have to be also delivered to the taxpayer within this deadline. Thus, in practice, a tax ruling must be deemed issued in a timely manner if it was drawn up in complete form and signed by the competent authority within the prescribed deadline. While it might seem that this construal of “failure to issue the tax ruling” deprives taxpayers of any realistic ability to monitor the timely issuance of tax rulings by the relevant authorities, one must not forget that the state authorities are required to operate in compliance with the law and may not take any unlawful action. Any concerns taxpayers might have as to the actual date of issuance of tax rulings must therefore be seen as unfounded. That said, taxpayers would be well advised to protect their interests by carefully monitoring the procedure of issuance of the tax rulings they requested.