Polish MPs question first witness in tax probe

A group of Polish deputies on Tuesday began questioning his first witness in the investigation of suspected cases of VAT fraud and excise tax under the previous government.

The witness, Witold Modzelewski, one of the architects of Poland’s value-added tax system and deputy finance minister from 1992 to 1996, told the special parliamentary commission that the so-called VAT gap ballooned in Poland between 2007 and 2015, leading to billions of zlotys in losses for public coffers, the PAP news agency reported.

The parliamentary inquiry, led by Marcin Horała, an MP for Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, got under way after the lower house of Poland’s parliament in early July voted to launch a parliamentary investigation into suspected irregularities.

Horała said at the time that a probe was needed to check former finance ministry officials and others who oversaw the VAT collection system under the Civic Platform-led government, which governed Poland from 2007 to 2015.

A deputy finance minister was quoted as saying last year that value-added tax (VAT) fraud under the Civic Platform government was “the biggest disease” in the country since the fall of communism in 1989.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was previously finance minister, said last year that government efforts to clamp down on tax fraud and evasion were vital to Poland’s future.

A study released in December found that Poland’s government was effectively cracking down on tax evasion.

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