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Voluntary disclosure – what is it and how to make it?


​by Anna Kościelny

20 February 2023

A voluntary disclosure is a notification of an offence (e.g. failure to file a tax return or information return on time) describing the details of the case.  It allows taxpayers to put right their errors and thus to avoid liability for a fiscal crime.  To prevent a penalty charge, taxpayers should fulfil the relevant tax obligation and at the same time submit a voluntary disclosure letter.  Voluntary disclosure is regulated in detail in the Polish Fiscal Crime Code (Article 16). 

When is a voluntary disclosure effective?

A voluntary disclosure is considered effectively made if the taxpayer fulfils the outstanding obligation, which includes the payment of the entire overdue tax. By submitting a voluntary disclosure, the taxpayer avoids additional penalties, but is not released from the obligation to pay tax arrears and the related interest. The regulations amended by the Polish Deal stipulate clearly that a voluntary disclosure must be made before revenue authorities initiate preparatory proceedings for a fiscal crime or misdemeanour. 

When is a voluntary disclosure ineffective?

A voluntary disclosure is ineffective if it is submitted:

  1. after the law enforcement authorities become aware of and clearly document a fiscal crime or misdemeanour;
  2. after the law enforcement authorities initiate an official procedure, including a search, an inquiry or an inspection, to identify a fiscal crime or misdemeanour, unless such a procedure fails to deliver sufficient grounds for initiating proceedings to that effect.

Moreover, the Polish Criminal Code says that a voluntary disclosure cannot be made if the offender:

  1. masterminds a crime or misdemeanour;
  2. uses the supervisor-subordinate relationship to instruct a person to commit a crime or misdemeanour;
  3. establishes or directs a group or an organisation whose aim is to commit a fiscal crime, unless he and all other members of that group or organisation notify the law enforcement authorities about the committed crime or misdemeanour and its relevant circumstances;
  4. abets another person to commit a fiscal crime or misdemeanour with the aim to have proceedings for that crime or misdemeanour initiated against that person.

Likewise, a voluntary disclosure is ineffective and the taxpayer is subject to a penalty if a fiscal crime or misdemeanour is identified in preparatory proceedings pending in another case. After the taxpayer makes a voluntary disclosure, revenue authorities do not have to inform him about their decision to apply one of the provisions listed above. Therefore, when filing an amended tax return, the taxpayer does not know whether or not any proceedings have been initiated against him.

How and where can a taxpayer make a voluntary disclosure?

A voluntary disclosure is made either in writing or as a spoken statement submitted for the record to the competent revenue authority. It can also be made online, using a relevant option on the revenue office website. A voluntary disclosure can be submitted: 

  • in writing 
  • as a spoken statement for the record 
  • electronically – only using an account on the revenue office website

How to write a voluntary disclosure letter? Examples

There is no standard voluntary disclosure template. Its content depends on the taxpayer’s case and the reasons for non-compliance. Nevertheless, a voluntary disclosure letter must always include:

  • the addressee (the head of the competent revenue office);
  • the disclosing taxpayer;
  • the offence or misdemeanour being disclosed;
  • a detailed description of the facts and circumstances of the case;
  • the taxpayer’s associates, if any; 
  • information on how the disclosing taxpayer is going to remedy the non-compliance or when he is going to settle the tax arrears plus the related interest or submit the required documents (e.g. tax returns).

Finally, the disclosing taxpayer must pay the overdue taxes (and present the payment confirmation) and file the required documents referred to in the voluntary disclosure.


According to the provisions on voluntary disclosure set out in Article 16 of the Polish Fiscal Crime Code, taxpayers can generally avoid criminal sanctions by submitting explanations and fulfilling an outstanding tax obligation. The above article stipulates the conditions that must be met for a voluntary disclosure to be effective, including, in particular, who can submit a voluntary disclosure and when revenue authorities must not refuse to accept it. 

From 2022 filing an amended tax return does not rule out criminal and fiscal sanctions. If revenue authorities initiate preparatory proceedings for a fiscal crime or misdemeanour or identify such acts during preparatory proceedings, they may refuse to treat the amended return and tax paid after the tax inspection as a voluntary disclosure, which otherwise allows avoiding criminal liability. 
If you have any questions, please contact our experts.


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Anna Kościelny

Tax adviser (Poland)

Senior Associate

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