Primary tasks

Efforts taken by General Directorate of Taxation in Albania to help taxpayers

Diána Schreiter's picture
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Extension of deadlines

The deadlines for the submission of financial statements has been extended.  Pursuant to the Normative Act No. 10, dated 26.03.2020 “On an Amendment to Law No. 8438, dated 28.12.1998 “ On Income Tax ”, as amended, for all taxpayers, the balance sheet and its annexes, will be submitted by 31 July 2020.

 

Deferral of payments

For taxpayers with a turnover of up to ALL 14 million, the tax calculated on the basis of the annual taxable income statement, and prepayments made during the tax period, shall be paid by the taxpayer within the second half of 2020. For taxpayers with a turnover of up to ALL 14,000,000, the profit tax instalments of the first and second quarter of 2020 shall be prepaid by 31 December 2020. Pre-instalments of profit tax, of the third and fourth quarter of 2020, shall be prepaid by 31 December 2020.

Payment instalments for simplified profit tax are made for the first and second quarters of 2020 by October 20, 2020, and for the third and fourth quarters of 2020 within December 20, 2020. For taxpayers with tax liabilities as Simplified Profit Tax with annual turnover from 5 (five) to 8 (eight) million ALL, payments of simplified profit tax prepayment instalments are made to second-level banks and the Albanian Post s.a. , on behalf of the tax administration, by 20 October 2020 for the first and second quarter of 2020, while for the third and fourth quarters of 2020 by 20 December 2020.

Postponement of payments for categorised tenants:

All individual tenants who have a tenancy agreement or any other document certifying the landlord-tenant contractual relationship prior to the outbreak of the epidemic, who have a contract of employment but have suspended / terminated it as a result of the COVID situation –19, will not pay the rent for two months, April and May 2020.

All student tenants who have a tenancy agreement or any other document certifying the landlord-tenant contractual relationship, prior to the outbreak, will not pay the rent for two months, April and May 2020.

All tenants natural / legal persons with income up to ALL 14,000,000 (fourteen million) per year, who have a notarial lease for the development of their economic activity, signed prior to the declaration of the epidemic, and have stopped it activity as a result of the situation caused by COVID-19, will not pay the rent for two months, April and May 2020.

The arrears of these two months shall be paid by the tenant in a proportionate manner and agreed with the landlord after May 2020

 

Remitting penalties and interest

For all declarations and payments provided for in Normative Act No.10, dated 26.3.2020 and Normative Act No. 11, dated 27.3.2020 the application of penalties and interests is suspended until the expiry of the new deadlines.

 

Quicker refunds

All applications are being prioritized for approval under the legal obligations and deadlines. There is coordination with the Ministry of Finance and Economy to prioritize through the Treasury, the value for reimbursement for all the approved applications under the FIFO method. For the approved refund applications, which are handled in instalments due to their high value, payments from the Treasury will be based on the budget's financial situation.

 

Audit policies and tax certainty

Pursuant to the Order of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection No. 156, dated 10.03.2020 “On Special Measures on the Prevention of the Spread of the Infection Caused by COVID-19”, for different types of audit, the following measures have been taken:

- All audits in place at the taxpayer's premises, which are in the audit process and require the physical presence of the audit inspector, are suspended until the situation is normalised. 

- All planned audits where the taxpayer has not been / or has been notified of the start of the audit, will be suspended until the situation normalizes. 

- All fiscal visits to the taxpayer's premises that are in the audit process and require the physical presence of the audit inspector, will be suspended and removed from the plan that provided for their completion in March 2020. 

There are exemptions to the suspension of audits, for example, fraud cases, which are not excluded.

 

The duties of the Audit from Office Sector do not necessarily require the taxpayer’s presence or physical presence in the office. These tasks can also be followed from home by always accessing the C@TS System. For the normal functioning of the work of the Audit Unit in the Regional Directorates, with reduced staff present in the office, all measures have been taken for the distribution of work for the part of the staff who will work from home, dividing and planning tasks according to inspectors, how the task will be distributed, monitoring and reporting frequency.

 

Enhanced services and communication initiatives

The way of providing services to taxpayers in each Regional Tax Directorate has been reorganized through: email, telephone contacts (published on the Tax Administration web site), Call Centre, Tax Administration website Livechat, application of requests from each taxpayer’s electronic filing account and their treatment by taxpayer service employees.

The following have also been prepared and published on the GDT website:

- Informative notices on:

a. legal changes, normative acts

b. extending the deadline for the declaration of financial statements for 2019,

c. postponing the payment of the 2019 Income Tax and preliminary payments of 2020, for taxpayers with income up to 14 million ALL,

d. postponing the payment of the simplified Income Tax instalments.

- Practical usage guidelines and informative videos on how to complete the online form “For obtaining financial aid”

- Also, pop-up messages were sent to the taxpayer's e-filing account notifying them for the activities that are closed according to the deadlines.

GDT is implementing a communication plan that aims to keep the public informed of any changes affecting the day-to-day operations of the tax administration with a view to securing its interest and the overall business in general. The communication plan includes the following audience: taxpayers, individuals, key customers, correspondent banks, other important regulators, staff and third parties.  Utilising both traditional and social media.

Channels for communication efforts:

- Press releases, video conferences, daily presence in the media of the Director General supporting and informing all taxpayers of all procedures and policy reforms.

- Email, Web sites, FBs and various social networks. Video messages illustrating usage and entries of data according to new regulations and additional online services.

- E-filing notifications, Contact centre scripts, etc.

- Announcements in regional directorates, branches and service centres etc.

- Dedicated email address and telephone hotline for crisis-related tax issues.

- Publicize the availability and encourage taxpayers to use the tax agency's online services

- Increase the availability of remote taxpayer assistance, including extending operating hours and increasing staff assigned to telephone contact centres.

 - Provide additional tax filing options to customize and update your e-filing system and new online tax payment method

 

General measures

On March 19th the government amended the 2020 budget through a normative act announcing a package of support measures of ALL 23 billion (1.3 percent of GDP). The package is a combination of spending reallocations, spending increases and sovereign guarantees to support affected businesses. The key measures are:

1. additional funding for health sector in the amount of ALL 3.5 billion

2. ALL 6.5 billion for the support of small businesses/self-employed that are forced to close activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic by paying them twice the amount of tax-declared salaries, doubling of the unemployment benefits and social assistance layouts.

3. ALL 2 billion of defence spending reallocated toward humanitarian relief for the most vulnerable

4. deferral of profit tax instalment payments for small companies and,

5. ALL 11 billion (0.6 percent of GDP) sovereign guarantee fund for companies to access overdrafts in the banking system to pay wages for their employees.

 

Business Continuity Measures

Governance arrangements

-Approval of Emergency regulation

-An action measurement plan in managing the Covid 19 situation was immediately in place after the pandemic status was declared.

The operational committee set up by the GDT meets on a daily basis to make decisions and allocate tasks based on the decisions of the Council of Ministers and the recommendations of the Ministry of Finance.

- It has  been appointed a Coordinator for each building and at the institutional level, which will act as the focal point for reporting and planning any activity needed.

- One deputy is appointed for each coordinator.

 

Scenario planning

Identification of the minimum staff needed to run the main /basic services and the identification of the staff working from home.

- The implementation of a plan for the continuity of the activity of the tax administration extended to each directorate and regional branch that includes all services for businesses / taxpayers.

- Prepare and publish notices to taxpayers to guide them towards alternative ways in obtaining information.

- Preparing a list of services offered to taxpayers in alternative ways.

In order to continue with the working processes and avoid obstacles, the IT department has made it possible to access the internal system from the outside by respecting all security elements.  This is made possible through the secure VPN SSL network.  The same method is also applied to the testing platform, for users to be able to plan and be safe in their work.

 

Understanding critical vulnerabilities

GDT has taken immediate risk management measures while reducing maximally the presence of staff in office premises. Identification of key staff at the managerial level has been carried out, with the latter tasked with making a division of staff who will work in the office and who will work online from home, defining the tasks assigned. This reporting and task division is carried out on a weekly basis.

External C@TS system access has been enabled.

1. All the subjects that trade food products and other wholesale products, necessary to cope with the epidemic situation, are obliged to take measures to maintain stocks that trade for a 3-month period or in accordance with the product's longevity, in order to cope with the situation caused by COVID-19 infection. Goods purchased for the purpose of coping with the situation, if they have not been sold on the free market at the end of the epidemic situation, may be sold to the General Directorate of Material Reserves of the State, upon the invoice by which these goods were purchased. All taxpayers importing and producing essential living products have been identified, which according to the normative act of the Council of Ministers should provide the necessary stock for 3 months.

2. All subjects that wholesale medicines / medical devices, subjects that manufacture medicines and medical devices, and subjects that provide health services, must stay on alert and take all necessary measures to secure supplies with medicines and medical devices and to provide necessary health services in the context of coping with the emergency situation caused by COVID-19.

Being in these conditions, the security control of the central system has been increased and access has been made with VPN. Further improvements will be made to the website www.tatime.gov.al to provide more support to taxpayers. Currently a calendar has been drawn up, to define the staff who will work by rotation in the office, and staff working remotely from home, in order to complete all the necessary activities for the tax administration.

 

Staff and taxpayer safety

- On-site controls are temporarily suspended. Some field monitoring teams will be on alert for emergencies or denunciations.

- Work with office controls will continue.

- Cancellation of trips outside Albania.

- For the ongoing projects, missions organised by international experts will be cancelled.

- Notification of the self-quarantine staff for 14 days, for anyone returning from affected countries.

- Cancelling participation in trainings or other services.

 

Remote working

A manual for remote working systems has been developed. In the context of functioning of the institution with reduced staff present, distribution of work for the staff working from home and the continuation of the functioning of the institution, GDT has determined:

- Task sharing and scheduling for at least a one-month period

- Establish duties of each director / sector and employees which will be present at office and those working from home

- The method of distribution of tasks for each category and frequency.

- Manner of monitoring and reporting frequency.

 

Contact arrangements

The implementation of guidelines for staff who suffer illness/sickness at work. Practical guidelines should be created by the general / regional coordinator such as: Where to report, where to go, actions to undertake and what to avoid immediately. GDT has prepared a list of information that includes: the identification of staff with children, persons around the age of 60 who can stay at home, people who have employees suffering from chronic illnesses who may be at greater risk. GDT has prepared a Protocol for those people with health conditions "in question", and who want to go to work. GDT has prepared a Draft -protocol for the identification of the staff unable to work due to health conditions.

 

Communicating

Due to the large percentage of all employees working from home, communication, task assignments, and follow-up and monitoring, are extremely difficult. To facilitate the changing habits of the daily job, GDT has issued two draft guidance notes containing tips for remote working, designed for managers and staff. This guidance will help cope with the pressure of the Corona crisis and the new work situation

 

Training and redeployment

Regarding the implementation of the approved training program for the year 2020, in cooperation with the Training Centre of Tax and Customs Administration, the possibility of developing on-line training is being reviewed, referring to the situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Implementation of the training program for directors, which was suspended, is rescheduled. This training will be conducted online through the Google Classroom platform and then a basic testing will be held on online topics or in-room.

 

Recruitment and retention

Regarding retired staff and / or bringing back recently retired staff, no case has been applied at present.  GDT cannot postpone the retirement for civil servants who must be released from the civil service, otherwise becomes subject to penalties. Regarding recruitment, the proceedings in the process have been suspended by Order of the Minister of Health. To meet the needs of the administration, a redistribution of human resources can be done in the framework of the ongoing restructuring process.

 


 

In case you have any document of information which you find worth to share regarding the actions, measures or concrete experiences in countering the crisis, please do not hesitate to upload it to the subpage focusing on Covid-19 Crisis Support on IOTA website in order to share it with other members.