Our point of view

Heikki Vesikansa's and Matleena Pälve's article published in the latest issue of Verotus-lehti

30 August 2019

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Heikki Vesikansa and Matleena Pälve have written an article in the latest issue of the leading Finnish tax journal, Verotus-lehti, discussing their insights on the potentially growing importance of extraordinary petitions for appeal in tax matters. Recently, tax payers’ ordinary possibilities to claim adjustments in their favour from past tax years were restricted from five to three preceding tax years. This will undoubtedly increase the need for extraordinary petitions in cases where tax payers notice errors that are to their disadvantage and that date back more than the three immediately preceding tax years. The writers note that, in the past, the Supreme Administrative Court has published its decisions concerning extraordinary petitions in tax matters quite rarely and this makes it difficult to estimate how the praxis on extraordinary petitions has evolved and what are the requirements that tax payers need to meet in order to have their rights protected in cases of errors that cannot be remedied with ordinary appeals.

At the same time, the rules on extraordinary petitions have been reformed as part of the overall reform of the Administrative Process Act, which will enter into force on 1 January 2020. One of the upcoming changes relating to extraordinary petitions for reversal is that from 2020 onwards tax payers will need to use a licensed lawyer – in practice an attorney or a licensed legal representative – as their representative in the Supreme Administrative Court in order to have an erroneous tax decision reversed. Previously, tax payers could represent themselves or use representatives other than licensed lawyers in all extraordinary petitions as well. According to the preparatory works of the Act, this change is introduced in order to improve the quality of extraordinary petitions for reversal. Hopefully, this change will also lead to faster processing times for these petitions and more published case law in this field, which would undoubtedly improve tax payers’ ability to estimate their potential of success in correcting errors dating back more than the three preceding tax years.