Criminal law

Fake invoices for almost PLN 21 billion

Information from the Ministry of Finance shows that in 2021 customs and fiscal services revealed 201 thousand fake invoices. They documented false transactions worth PLN 20.6 billion.

Fictitious invoices on a downward trend

Let us recall that fictitious invoices are sales documents that have no cover in real economic turnover. Criminals issue them in order to extort VAT refunds from the state budget.

Compared to a year earlier, the number of detected frauds in Poland increased by 30 percent, i.e. by 46.7 thousand documents. This is the first such increase since 2016.

According to the tax authorities, this was due to the higher number of customs and fiscal inspections carried out. In addition, the tax service, in connection with the revealed cases of VAT fraud, sent 157 notices of suspicion of crime to the prosecutor’s office.

On the other hand, the value of fictitious invoices decreased for the fifth time in a row. This time the decrease amounted to 7% or PLN 1.6 billion. As a result, the losses to the state budget on this account were the lowest since 2013.

Measures aimed at reducing VAT fraud

Statistically, one fictitious invoice amounted to PLN 99.5 thousand. A year earlier it was PLN 144 thousand.

According to tax experts from Dudkowiak Kopeć & Putyra, the decrease in the average value of the so-called empty invoice is a result of several factors. The most important ones are:

  • legislative changes and stricter penalties for VAT fraud,
  • development of e-services, including popularization of e-commerce and online payments,
  • digitalization of public administration, including creation of such mechanisms as JPK VAT, split payment and STIR.

These actions have contributed to the tightening of the tax system. They have deterred some criminals, while forcing others to be more cautious.

It manifests itself, inter alia, in in the fact that fictitious invoices are issued for ever smaller amounts. In 2021, they accounted for 0.25 percent. business value. This in 2021 amounted to PLN 8.2 trillion (this is the total value of 2.4 billion invoices issued).

Author team leader DKP Legal Marta Oleśkowska
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