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Large variations in municipal efforts to collect income tax arrears and to inspect employers - Document no. 3:10 (2006-2007)

Tax collectors in small municipalities allow considerable time to pass between the due date for the payment of income tax arrears and the implementation of recovery measures. There are large variations among the municipalities with regard to the scope of employer inspections, and the risk of being inspected is very small.
Published 6/21/2007 3:07 PM

These are some of the main conclusions given in Document no. 3:10 (2006–2007) The Office of the Auditor General of Norway's investigation of tax collectors’ recovery routines and on-site inspections of employers that was submitted to the Storting on 1 June 2007. The document is a follow-up of Document no. 3:12 (1999–2000) and Document no. 3:5 (2001–2002).

The investigation shows that in the small municipalities, i.e. those with fewer than 5000 inhabitants, up to six months may pass before the first recovery measure are implemented. More severe measures such as enforced sale and bankruptcy are employed to very different degrees.

The investigation shows that only 21 per cent of the tax-collecting offices report that they have any form of cooperation on recovery routines, despite requests from the Ministry of Finance and the Directorate of Taxes to establish such coordination.

With regard to employer inspections, the investigation shows that the actual risk of undergoing an inspection is very small: employers can on average expect to be inspected once every 23 years. There is also a considerable disparity among the municipalities with regard to the scope of the inspections in the on-site employer monitoring. The Office of the Auditor General of Norway (the OAG) is of the view that the risk of inspection varies substantially since inspection coverage differs so much from one municipality to another.

The OAG is of the opinion that the Ministry of Finance has a limited chance of influencing the municipalities’ prioritisations within the present form of organisation in which the state has the tax-specific responsibility while the municipalities have the administrative responsibility for the allocation of resources to the tax collectors’ offices. The question is therefore raised as to the appropriateness of this division of management areas in the organisation of the municipal tax-collecting function. This is in line with assesments from the previous investigations.

The Ministry of Finance refers to the fact that during recent years the tax authorities have made great efforts to strengthen the follow-up of the municipal tax collectors at the same time as studies have been conducted on improving tax-collecting procedures.

The document can be ordered from Akademika booksellers, tel. +47 22 18 81 23.

The provision concerning delayed public access to documents that are compiled by or sent to the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document no. 3:10 (2006-2007), cf. Section 18, paragraph 2 of the Auditor General Act, has been repealed.

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