The audit revealed that on-site inspections of employers, which are carried out by municipal tax collectors, do not comply with the requirements regarding sound inspection routines and that several municipalities did not carry out any on-site tax inspections of employers in some years. In the opinion of the Office of the Auditor General, this communicates to employers that the likelihood of inspection is very small, meaning it is questionable whether the tax inspections have the intended preventive effect.
The Office of the Auditor General studied the scope of the on-site tax inspections of employers in the light of the requirement regarding sound inspection routines. The audit showed that on the basis of the national inspection coverage in 2000, employers can expect to be inspected every 30 years on average. This is far below the Directorate of Taxes’ recommended level of inspection, which states that on average no more than ten years should pass between each time an employer is inspected. In the audited counties, frequency of inspection varied from 21 to 43 years.
The audit revealed that many municipalities do not compile inspection plans and descriptions of routines or use fixed criteria to select their inspection objects. The Office of the Auditor General would therefore query whether the planning and performance of the inspection work are of a qualitatively acceptable level in several municipalities.
One of the reasons that municipalities do not give priority to on-site tax inspections of employers is that the extra expenditure of resources necessary to carry out the inspections seldom yields increased revenues for the municipalities.
Taxes and duties on pay are of huge importance for the nation’s total revenues from taxes and duties, and the Office of the Auditor General therefore deems it unsatisfactory that municipalities do not perform the statutory tax inspection of employers to a sufficient degree.
In the future, the Ministry of Finance is going to give priority to ensuring that clear improvements in performance are achieved. However, the Ministry also stated that this would be difficult to achieve with the current organisation.
This report is available in Norwegian on the Office of the Auditor General’s website – www.riksrevisjonen.no – or can be ordered from the University bookshop Akademika, tel. +47 22 11 67 70.