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Old 19.06.2018, 11:30
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Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

I've been filing my tax return for 8 years in Bern, no problems till now.
However, for 2016 I thought my accountant had sent the return, they thought they had sent it to me. Only much later did I realise what had happened.
Of course, I am to blame as I forgot that the tax return must be signed, previously I have signed in the accountant office and they then post it for me.
This time it was done remotely so my assumption was stupid.

Anyway, once we realised, we filed the return and raised an objection (einsprache) but the fine is almost CHF1000 which seems excessive to me, especially as I've never filed late before.

I spoke to the accountant who are happy to discuss splitting the fine somehow but insist that there's no point trying to reason with the tax authorities to reduce the fine as there is no way that they will reduce a fine because of a misunderstanding between me and my accountant.

I can either a) accept the fine and split it with the accountant
b)Get the accountant to raise an objection and request a lowering of the fines
c) Call them, explaining detail and appeal to their human side.

Does anyone have any experience in this?
What should I do?
My instinct says c)
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Old 19.06.2018, 11:33
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

a)

Tom
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Old 19.06.2018, 22:45
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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a)

Tom
Thanks Tom, no chance of the Steuerverwaltung being flexible then?
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Old 19.06.2018, 22:50
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

Often it depends on who you speak to at the tax office. I've not had a fine before but have had to discuss various submissions and it really depends on the person.

I would recommend speaking to them, explain the situation and see what they say.

If you are lucky you'll speak to someone who is sympathetic. They can only say no, can't they, and if you don't ask you don't know.
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Old 19.06.2018, 23:03
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

Is the fine for your Gemeinde tax return, the cantonal one, or both? In my small Gemeinde in BL, the Steueramt comprises one very efficient but also approachable and helpful woman who has full access to my tax records at both levels of government. I've taken the time to meet and converse with her occasionally, and cultivate a bit of a relationship. She has helped me immeasurably with extensions for filing my returns (at no cost) and moving credits around between Canton and Gemeinde, to avoid penalty interest on tax owed to one level of government when I am owed money by the other.

I'd go in person and talk to the tax office to explain your situation and ask for their help.

And I'd better get cracking and submit my 2017 returns...
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Old 19.06.2018, 23:03
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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Often it depends on who you speak to at the tax office. I've not had a fine before but have had to discuss various submissions and it really depends on the person.

I would recommend speaking to them, explain the situation and see what they say.

If you are lucky you'll speak to someone who is sympathetic. They can only say no, can't they, and if you don't ask you don't know.
That's what I was thinking.
I'll see if I can turn on the charm, hopefully they like a Scottish accent
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Old 19.06.2018, 23:05
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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Is the fine for your Gemeinde tax return, the cantonal one, or both? In my small Gemeinde in BL, the Steueramt comprises one very efficient but also approachable and helpful woman who has full access to my tax records at both levels of government. I've taken the time to meet and converse with her occasionally, and cultivate a bit of a relationship. She has helped me immeasurably with extensions for filing my returns (at no cost) and moving credits around between Canton and Gemeinde, to avoid penalty interest on tax owed to one level of government when I am owed money by the other.

I'd go in person and talk to the tax office to explain your situation and ask for their help.

And I'd better get cracking and submit my 2017 returns...
It's for both, maybe a meeting in person is a good idea, I didn't think of that tbh.
My gemeinde is Bern city so not a cosy wee village one
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Old 20.06.2018, 09:00
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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Is the fine for your Gemeinde tax return, the cantonal one, or both?
Eh? One and the same here (and everywhere else I know of). Is BL different?
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Old 20.06.2018, 10:07
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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Eh? One and the same here (and everywhere else I know of). Is BL different?
As mentioned in my post, the two tax accounts are kept separate, so that one can have a credit on one and owe tax on the other. But you're correct, of course, there's just one return for both authorities, so any fine would apply to "both". I didn't really think it through...
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Old 20.06.2018, 10:12
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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I can either
a) accept the fine and split it with the accountant
b)Get the accountant to raise an objection and request a lowering of the fines
c) Call them, explaining detail and appeal to their human side.

Does anyone have any experience in this?
What should I do?
My instinct says c)
d) take all the papers with you, and go there in person.
Be as polite as you have been in your very good opening post, and you might have a chance. If not, you can always revert to a).
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Old 20.06.2018, 10:35
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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As mentioned in my post, the two tax accounts are kept separate, so that one can have a credit on one and owe tax on the other. But you're correct, of course, there's just one return for both authorities, so any fine would apply to "both". I didn't really think it through...
Still surprising me - normally cantonal and gemeinde tax are together in a single bill, it is only the federal tax that is separate...

Anyhow seems here the issue is non-filing so only the filing of the return is relevant anyway.
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Old 20.06.2018, 11:00
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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Still surprising me - normally cantonal and gemeinde tax are together in a single bill, it is only the federal tax that is separate...

Anyhow seems here the issue is non-filing so only the filing of the return is relevant anyway.
I definitely received separate assessments for my cantonal and Gemeinde taxes for 2016. The weird part was that I had a credit on one, on which I received interest at the generous rate of 0.4% (IIRC), and a debit balance (of less than the credit) on which I was charged interest at 6.0%!

But as always, your experience may vary by canton...
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Old 20.06.2018, 11:08
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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I definitely received separate assessments for my cantonal and Gemeinde taxes for 2016. The weird part was that I had a credit on one, on which I received interest at the generous rate of 0.4% (IIRC), and a debit balance (of less than the credit) on which I was charged interest at 6.0%!

But as always, your experience may vary by canton...
I think that shouldn't happen, the communal and cantonal parts are ruled by the same laws and regulations. Are you perhaps mixing this pair with the federal one? That would also match the separate accounts you describe.

If memory serves, the cantonal and communal parts are called "Staats- und Gemeindesteuer" whereas the federal one is called "Bundessteuer". Did perhaps "Staat" throw you off?
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Old 20.06.2018, 13:12
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

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I think that shouldn't happen, the communal and cantonal parts are ruled by the same laws and regulations. Are you perhaps mixing this pair with the federal one? That would also match the separate accounts you describe.

If memory serves, the cantonal and communal parts are called "Staats- und Gemeindesteuer" whereas the federal one is called "Bundessteuer". Did perhaps "Staat" throw you off?
Indeed, "Staat" is a little confusing! But no, I also received, separately, a kind invitation to pay Bundessteuer.
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Old 21.06.2018, 09:35
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Re: Excessive fine for late tax return in Bern

I checked with my accountant and indeed, it's a cantonal thing (as always): in BL, somewhat unusually, the federal and cantonal tax returns (Bundes- & Staatssteuererklärung) are combined in one and the communal (Gemeinde) return is separate. Payment deadlines for Bundes- and Staatssteuer are still separate.
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