Government bill on punitive tax or customs increase (HE 191/2012)

A government bill suggests new legislation regarding punitive tax or customs increase and changes on other related laws such as criminal law. These changes are to implement demands that stem from the European convention on human rights regarding ne bis in idem –rule on not prosecuting and giving judgment twice in the same matter. According to ne bis in idem a court or other authority cannot try a case if it has already been once solved with a judgment that has gained legal force i.e. one cannot begin a new process in the matter. Once an authority is faced with a case of possible punitive tax or customs increase it is first obligated to investigate if a judgment has already been given on the matter, if it has gained legal force and that the judgment and possible new decision would not overlap.

Despite the suggested changes punitive tax or customs increase would still be ordered in conjunction with a tax or customs decision. However the bill proposes that when deciding on taxation or customs the authority could decide not to give a decision on punitive increase if any of the following circumstances were in hand: First if the increase is related to such a case in which the authority has to consider making a notification or a request for preliminary investigation to another competent authority. Secondly a decision regarding increase would not be made if the tax or customs authority receives such a notification from prosecutor or other authority on their investigations regarding an act to which the taxation or customs decision is related. In these cases the decision on punitive increase would be postponed until the end of next calendar year, if the competent authority does not file a criminal complaint. After deciding on punitive increase the competent authority could not file a criminal complaint, unless new facts or new evidence would emerge after the decision. After a decision on punitive increase has been made, a criminal complaint on the matter could be filed only if the criminal investigation has ended with no result or the prosecutor has decided not to proceed. In these circumstances a 90 day time limit from notification would apply to deciding on the punitive increase.

The bill also proposes equivalent sections into criminal law on not prosecuting and giving judgment in criminal case, if a punitive increase has already been ordered in the same matter, with the exception of new facts or evidence haven emerged. Authorities could also decide not to proceed if a punitive increase could be considered to be an efficient sanction. Gross methods of doing would still have to reported to the prosecutor.

The new regulations would be applied to taxes carried by tax and customs officials and Finnish transport safety agency.

The changes would apply to the taxation of natural persons, domestic estates and associations and they are recommended to take effect as soon as possible.