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Löger and Fuchs present the 2017 BMF report on anti-fraud activities – the figures are impressive Modernisation of the tax administration will lead to further increases in efficiency

Vienna (OTS) – In the last few decades, the fight against fraud has developed into a department-specific trademark of the Austrian Ministry of Finance (BMF), standing for the fight against tax and customs offences and ensuring uniform taxation.

Hartwig Löger, BMF Minister of Finance, said: “The BMF takes its task of calling to account those who try to escape their tax and customs obligations very seriously. The 2017 report on anti-fraud activities portrays the achievements of tax administration employees in what has sometimes been a very difficult working environment. In future also, we will ensure that sufficient resources and staff are available for us to fulfil our task in a conscientious manner.”

State Secretary Hubert Fuchs said: “I congratulate our tax audit, customs and financial police staff on their successful work in the fight against fraud. With their tireless efforts they are protecting honest businesses and indeed all citizens of Austria. The fraud scenarios they have brought to light testify to the effectiveness of the work being done by the Ministry of Finance.”

For example, audits of large-scale enterprises alone yielded just over 1 billion Euros. The external auditing carried out by the tax offices produced an additional 680 million Euros through company audits and a further 141 million Euros from audits carried out in the context of the GPLA (joint audit of wage-dependent levies). The introduction of the till system obligation yielded around 650 million Euros in VAT.

In the case of customs offices, there were 56 seizures of cash involving a total amount of 1.6 million Euros, over 4 million cigarettes and 100 kg of drugs were seized, and there were over 1,900 seizures of pirated products and goods made from protected species. The financial police carried out inspections into nearly 28,000 operations and identified 10,800 illegal employees. In the course of 1,314 inspections of gambling operations, 2,739 illegal devices were seized.

“Particularly in the case of VAT fraud and trading in mineral oils, we often come across very well organised criminal structures. Our customs authorities frequently identify under-invoicing and false designation of origin, aimed at avoidance of the high customs duties payable on imports from China. They have also dealt with smuggling of tobacco products and narcotics,” stated Löger.

“The main focus for the financial police is on labour market inspections aimed at uncovering illegal employment, wage and social dumping and welfare fraud. In the construction sector in particular, fraudsters have achieved high profits through networks of bogus companies and through illegal employment. The fight against illegal gambling is also very important: financial penalties amounting to around 53 million Euros were applied for in this area in 2017,” said State Secretary Fuchs.

The modernisation of the tax and customs administration will bring further increases in efficiency through a more even distribution of work, and will give the administration the resources it needs to meet the challenges of the future. With regard to the fight against fraud, it is envisaged that all tax office departments which deal with criminal cases will be brought together into one fiscal offence prosecution authority, initially to be known as the “anti-fraud office”, the aim being on the one hand to ensure uniform application of the law on fiscal offences, and on the other hand to speed up procedures. In addition, tax investigations and the financial police will also be organisationally incorporated into this new authority. In the area of customs administration, there is to be just one customs office, with the present 9 customs investigation authorities being brought together into one department, which will also be structured to meet the challenges of the future.

6 January 2019