France’s tax police: towards a repressive tax policy

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Corporate taxation, Fiscalité internationale, Personal taxation | 0 comments

The fight against tax fraud has become a major preoccupation for tax authorities in France. In response to this problem, the government has introduced a new tool: the tax police. This measure is an important step in the crackdown on tax crime, which is becoming increasingly severe. In this article, we’ll look at the introduction of the tax police in France and its impact on tax policy, as well as the importance of calling on the services of a tax lawyer specializing in criminal tax matters.

Tax police in France

The National Brigade for the Repression of Tax Crime (BNRDF)

The tax authorities have their own investigative services, commonly referred to as the “tax police”, but in reality they are the “brigade nationale de répression de la délinquance fiscale” (BNRDF). It operates under the authority of the French Ministry of the Interior, and can intervene in cases of flagrante fiscale and access national and international information.

Forensic tax officers

When tax officials carry out judicial investigations at the request of the public prosecutor or on the basis of a rogatory commission from an examining magistrate, they have the same prerogatives and obligations as judicial police officers, including when these prerogatives and obligations are entrusted to specially designated police or gendarmerie services or units (amended art. 28-2, IV of the French Criminal Procedure Code).

The specialized department, known as the “tax police”, is made up of officers placed under the authority of a magistrate. The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (Parquet national financier – PNF) may refer cases requiring tax expertise to it. This “judicial tax office” is placed under the authority of the Minister for Action and Public Accounts.

Service d’Enquêtes Judiciaires des Finances (SEJF)

In practice, a decree no. 2019-460 of May 26, 2019 created a service with national competence called the “Service d’enquêtes judiciaires des finances – SEJF – attached jointly to the Director General of Customs and Indirect Rights and the Director General of Public Finance. Created from the transformation of the national judicial customs service (SNDJ), the SEJF is responsible for investigating and recording offences defined in articles 28-1 and 28-2 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure. This new service will be made up of the current Service national de la douane judiciaire (SNDJ), which will evolve to accommodate judicial tax officers (OFJ) in addition to judicial customs officers (ODJ).

Cracking down on tax fraud

Tax fraud is a highly punishable offence. If the tax authorities detect fraudulent behavior, they can decide to initiate criminal proceedings after consulting the Commission des infractions fiscales, or they are obliged to do so in certain circumstances (see our article on tax fraud and the abolition of the Bercy lock).

The law relating to the fight against tax fraud of October 23, 2018 makes it possible to assign judicial tax officers within the Ministry in charge of Action and Public Accounts in addition to the resources available to the national brigade for the repression of tax delinquency attached to the Ministry of the Interior.

Penalties incurred

It is therefore important to appreciate that today’s tax risks can be coupled with criminal risks ranging from heavy fines to prison sentences (particularly in the case of tax fraud). Today, these risks apply not only to direct perpetrators (the notion of organized gangs reinforces the possible level of repression applied in criminal matters), but also to indirect participants who are not necessarily aware of their involvement in a fraud.

These developments are important because they mark a turning point in the approach to tax matters, which is gradually moving away from the economic and financial sphere and into the realm of organized crime control.

The need for a tax lawyer

With the introduction of the tax police in France, the repression of tax fraud has become more severe. Tax risks can now lead to criminal sanctions, particularly in cases of tax fraud. It is therefore essential for taxpayers to be accompanied by a criminal tax lawyer to avoid any errors or omissions that could lead to investigation and prosecution.

A tax lawyer is a tax law professional who specializes in defending taxpayers involved in tax fraud. He has in-depth knowledge of tax and criminal legislation, as well as tax and legal procedures. He is able to advise his clients on the best strategies for defending and negotiating with tax and legal authorities, while safeguarding their rights and interests.

The role of AlterTax Avocats in securing tax positions

AlterTax’s tax lawyers are experienced in tax litigation, and have been practicing for many years in all areas of taxation. This invaluable knowledge enables them to advise their customers on their past and future operations. It enables us to implement procedures to secure past positions through active cooperation with the tax authorities, thereby preventing tax risks from developing into the risk of criminal prosecution.

AlterTax Avocats specializes in tax law, with recognized expertise in defending taxpayers against tax and criminal investigations. The firm’s lawyers are able to provide a complete and rigorous analysis of their clients’ tax situation, as well as solutions adapted to each situation to avoid tax and criminal risks.

In conclusion, the introduction of the tax police in France has strengthened the fight against tax fraud and increased the criminal risks for offenders. It is therefore crucial for taxpayers to be accompanied by a criminal tax lawyer to avoid errors and omissions that could lead to investigations and legal proceedings.

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