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Taxpayers may demand interests on overpayments even if they were late on filing a relevant request

Court of Justice of the European Union, C-322/22

Ruling: The principle of effectiveness, in conjunction with the principle of sincere cooperation, must be interpreted as precluding a piece of national legislation which, when a request for a refund of an overpayment of tax is submitted more than 30 days after the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union of a ruling of the Court of Justice from which the finding that the tax at issue is contrary to EU law is derived, limits the running of the interest on the overpayment due to the taxable person concerned to the thirtieth day following that publication, or even excludes interest entirely in a situation where that overpayment was incurred by the taxable person after that thirtieth day.

Explanation: The Polish tax law stipulates, that whenever a collection of tax results in overpayment, it should be returned to the taxpayer upon their request together with interests. In some circumstances the overpayment may be a result of rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU. The Tax Code (Ordynacja podatkowa) states, that the interest are due for the entire period of overpayment if the request had been filed within 30 days after the ruling’s publication, but had the request been filed after 30 days since the publication, then interests are due only for those 30 days. The reasoning behind this rule is that it prevents taxpayers from deliberately filing request after a long time in order to accumulate interests. However, it is possible that the overpayment itself arises after 30 days from the publication and under the current law it is impossible to charge any interests on them.

The Supreme Administrative Court referred to the CJEU in a case involving a company, that requested returning their overpayment in 2017, whilst the ruling being the basis of the overpayment was from 2014. The Polish court doubted, whether these provisions are in line with the principle of effectiveness and sincere cooperation.

The CJEU reached the conclusion, that it is impossible to expect from the taxpayer to be up to date on potentially relevant rulings, in whom they weren’t a party. Sometimes even a party of a judicial proceeding may be justified to file a request based on it more than 30 days afterwards. Therefore, the provision of Polish law is precluded by the principles of effectiveness and sincere cooperation.

Impact: Taxpayers will now have 30 days since the ruling’s publication (July 24th) for requesting a reopening of the proceedings in front of tax administrations and 3 months in case of judicial proceedings. Both deadlines are peremptory, so that it is important to stay within them.