The Tax and Customs Authority instituted 488 administrative procedures to access taxpayers’ bank accounts, 327 of which were voluntarily authorized by the holders, according to the 2020 Report against tax and customs fraud and evasion.

The document, delivered this Thursday to parliament, indicates that the 488 processes opened by the tax authorities in 2020 in which the lifting of bank secrecy was requested translate into a 43.6% drop compared to the 866 procedures instituted in 2019.

Of that total, “139 decisions to lift secrecy and 327 cases by voluntary authorization were concluded”, says the report, which also details the existence of 22 decisions to lift secrecy notified to family members or third parties.

The lifting of bank secrecy is provided for in the General Tax Law, which determines that the AT “has the power to access all bank information or documents, as well as information or documents from other financial entities […] without depending on the consent of the holder of the protected elements”.

This duty can be exercised when there are indications of crime in tax matters or the lack of veracity of what is declared, when there is a need to control the assumptions of privileged tax regimes or, among other reasons, when there is evidence of the existence of unjustified increases in assets.

Such access power on the part of the AT also exists “in situations of refusal of its exhibition [documentos bancários e emitidos por outras entidades financeiras] or authorization for its consultation, in the case of family members or third parties who are in a special relationship with the taxpayer”.

AT’s decision to access the account must be substantiated, and the law also provides that this is subject to a merely devolutive judicial appeal or, in the case of family members or third parties, depend on a prior hearing and “are susceptible to judicial appeal with effect suspensive action”.

According to the report, 20 judicial appeals were filed by the taxpayer and/or family members or third parties, with 12 sentences handed down by the court in favor of AT and eight in favor of the taxpayer.

The document emphasizes that “in the last three years, 2,337 procedures were instituted to derogate from bank secrecy, culminating in 1,718 processes with voluntary authorization from the taxpayer or third parties and family members”.

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