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Instruments for combating tax fraud Tax Investigation Agency; Central Liaison Office; Risk, Information and Analysis Centre

Effectively combating tax fraud requires close coordination among a number of different organisations. The Tax Investigation Agency (Steuerfahndung) is a nationwide organisational unit that plays an important role in this special preventative effort. The Central Liaison Office (CLO), which is part of the Tax Investigation Agency, is the authority responsible for ensuring international cooperation in the investigation of fraud and the collection of taxes according to applicable EU laws and bilateral treaties. The mission of the Risk, Information and Analysis Centre (RIA) is to analyse the available data in order to combat fraud more efficiently and to develop a modern risk management system.

Tax Investigation Agency

This nationwide organisational unit is independent in terms of personnel and finance, is headquartered in Vienna and maintains branches in most federal states.

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance has taken account of the increasingly international nature of tax fraud by establishing a single specialised unit – the Tax Investigation Agency – to deal with investigative matters in special financial crime cases. The agency is responsible both for domestic coordination as well as international contacts in significant, cross-border cases of VAT fraud. The Central Liaison Office (CLO) is also integrated in the Tax Investigation Agency, and is responsible for international administrative assistance with regard to direct and indirect taxation. Because effectively combating fraud is no longer just a domestic but also an international concern, the need for international cooperation continues to increase. The integration of the CLO and the associated international competencies helps to ensure that international cooperation in the areas of investigation and enforcement can be brought to bear against fraud. The remit of the Tax Investigation Agency ranges from seeking out, investigating and uncovering cases of evasion, to implementing official enforcement and command powers, and providing representation on behalf of the authorities responsible for prosecuting tax offences in court. While the Tax Investigation Agency is not a financial crime authority, it does provide support to the tax offices in criminal financial cases, including the investigatory proceedings ordered by court prosecution authorities.

The Tax Investigation Agency is focused on fighting systematic and organised tax fraud as well as detecting black economy employers by proactively identifying and eliminating fraudulent schemes and combating cross-border duty and social welfare fraud. Additional focus areas include advancing cooperation with foreign anti-fraud offices and intensifying the exchange of fraud-related information, particularly within the European Union.

The establishment of the Tax Investigation Agency represents an important contribution to implementing the strategy conceived by the Federal Ministry of Finance for improving anti-fraud activities in an effort to protect the financial interests of the Republic of Austria and the country's status as a business location. The Tax Investigation Agency and the Central Liaison Office can be reached as follows:

Name: Tax Investigation Agency and Central Liaison Office
Address: Brehmstraße 14, A-1110 Vienna
Telephone: +43 (0) 1 74 076
Fax: +43 (0)1 74 076-5953000

Central Liaison Office (CLO)

The mutual exchange of information is stipulated both by EU legislation as well as double taxation treaties, to the extent this is necessary for properly determining and assessing taxes. Under EU law and the provisions of several double taxation treaties, it is also possible to petition other countries for support in the enforcement of fiscal duties. Of note, all exchanges of information and support related to the enforcement of fiscal duties must be undertaken by the responsible authorities. With that in mind, the Austrian Federal Minister of Finance has appointed the CLO as the authority responsible for exchanging information and requesting enforcement measures.

The exchange of information may take the form of written requests for information in specific cases, or spontaneous information without prior request. If the information provided in writing about the facts of the pending case is insufficient, the investigators may be deployed to the country in question to clarify the facts jointly with the appropriate local supervisory bodies.

When expediency is desired in establishing the relevant facts, a procedure called “simultaneous controls” may be utilised concurrently in two or more countries. The term “simultaneous controls” means that different companies in a variety of countries may be subjected to an investigation at the same time. The information obtained through this approach is exchanged directly during joint meetings of the supervisory bodies.

When it is deemed necessary to deploy inspectors to another member state, and when “simultaneous controls” are being carried out, the supervisory bodies are authorised to exercise all rights and responsibilities accorded to the competent authorities.

The EU provides standard forms for administrative assistance requests submitted by countries and municipal authorities in the area of mutual enforcement assistance. The transmission of requests to other member states is undertaken by the CLO. These standard forms can be accessed via the administrative assistance portal.

Risk Information and Analysis Centre (RIA)

The Centre for Risk Information and Analysis is supporting the Austrian tax and customs department in antifraud. The specific task is to develop new tools which maximise the use of IT-techniques for the purpose of modern quality management.

Main task areas are the risk analysis tax including developing methods, which allow more accurate case selections to be made, standard audit file-tax, audit software using ACL and Mentor and the new audit techniques. A main project involves the analysis of data in order to identify people who sell goods and services via the internet without tax registration.

Besides the development of risk analysis programmes, global analysis for detection of irregularities the RIA team works on other important areas. One of these is to include customs requirements in accordance with EU guidelines, such as the preparation of an audit plan for customs. Finally there are the e-customs risk analysis modules, the RIF (Risk Information Form), the VAT customs fraud and product piracy.