1. A package of cushioning measures

On 10 March 2020, the Development Minister Ms Jadwiga Emilewicz presented a package of cushioning measures to be adopted in the form of a special law and formally submitted as a legislative proposal early this week. The projected solutions are listed here (in Polish).

The package includes a number of proposed changes in law designed to help businesses which have been adversely affected by the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19. The most important measures would include:

  • relief in payment of public levies, including easier ways to pay taxes and social security contributions,
  • liquidity improvement – financial instruments for companies, including guarantees and credit support,
  • labour market support and protection, including solutions for companies forced to go on idle time.

 

Work is underway to make changes to a number of laws relating to VAT, state aid (including de minimis aid), BGK support, and job protection.

Specifically, the Development Ministry proposes the following changes:

As regards deferral of payments:

  • deferred VAT compliance measures – new SAF-T (JPK) to become effective on 01.07.2020 instead of 01.04.2020,
  • easier split payments,
  • deadline for firms to register in the Central Register of Beneficial Owners (AML legislation) postponed until 01.07.2020,
  • quicker VAT refunds,
  • easier process to suspend doing business,
  • for industries affected by the crisis, travel cancellation expenses to be treated as deductions for income tax purposes,
  • cancellation of the tax deferral fee (opłata prolongacyjna),
  • changes to state aid schemes, extensions for SMEs and large enterprises.

 

As regards liquidity improvements:

  • loss carry-backs (2020 losses to be deductible from 2019 income),
  • guarantees and credit support from BGK,
  •       de minimis state aid. Currently BGK is allowed to provide de minimis aid in the form of guarantees for no more than the lower of 60% of loan amount or PLN 3.5M (per single guarantee). The proposal was to increase that to 80% of loan amount. On 16.03.2020  the Finance Minister signed a regulation on BGK's de minimis credit guarantees for micro-enterprises, small enterprises and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As of 17.03.2020, it will allow the guarantees to cover up to 80% of loan amount and will reduce the related commissions from 0.5% to 0%. See here for the communiqué in Polish. This is the first of the proposed cushioning measures from the package.
  • credit interest support – the disaster recovery fund to apply also in case of epidemics.

 

As regards labour market protection and support:

  • the duration of crisis as an eligibility requirement reduced from 6 to 2 months; crisis means a decline of at least 15% in business turnover or sales of goods or services;
  • if an employer suffers downtime, the employees would be entitled to: (i) a benefit from the Guaranteed Social Benefits Fund equal to 100% of the unemployment benefit (PLN 823.60) plus social security contributions, (ii) special pay from the employer equal at least to the minimum wage.

As regards sickness benefit and carer's allowance:

  • a sole trader with sickness insurance who is unable to do business due to Coronavirus will receive a sickness benefit from ZUS in accordance with general law, i.e. provided they have a medical certificate or are quarantined or isolated by decision of state sanitary inspector;
  • such a trader will also receive a carer's allowance if they provide personal care over a sick child or other family member (medical certificate required) or over a child in isolation or quarantine (SANEPID's decision required) or over a child of up to 8 years whose crèche, kindergarten, school or children's club has been closed (trader's declaration required).

 

2. Tax relief

Businesses which can have problems with timely payment of their taxes due to Coronavirus may apply for tax allowances or waiver based on Tax Code. Applications filed under Tax Code Article 67a et seq. will have priority. However, these will continue to be discretionary decisions of tax authorities. See here for more on it in Polish.

 

3. Tax request and filing deadlines postponed

During his press conference on 13.03.2020, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki mentioned "the postponement of various administrative compliance duties, tax return filings, different payments, e.g. real estate tax or perpetual usufruct tax, so that there is no need to leave your home until the end of March, so that this can preferably be done on-line". See here for the full conference in Polish (these plans are mentioned at 19:52 min). However, the announcements have not been followed up yet by any legislation or confirmation. It is also unclear what specific measures would be taken to achieve those goals.

We have talked to tax offices on the phone and they have so far not received any official guidance on these matters. At their own initiative they are sending taxpayers official notices setting later dates for conclusion of pending tax proceedings.

 

4. Proposals from taxpayers

The most important of these proposals include the following:

  • waive penalties for untimely compliance,
  • lift personal income tax on income from remote work,
  • release split paid funds,
  • suspend all enacted legislation waiting for commencement to the extent it imposes additional duties on business,
  • suspend the Sunday trading ban,
  • see here for proposed measures (in Polish) relating to tax law

 

These are merely proposals and there is no knowing if they will be adopted.

 

5. Offices

According to an official notice (see here for its Polish version), access to tax offices will be restricted between 12 and 27 March 2020. As far as we know, no official guidance has been given to tax offices as to any procedural quick fixes.

 

6. Polish Post

The Polish Post has introduced changes to its services (see here for official notice in Polish). The most important of these are as follows:

  • no outbound mail to other countries will be accepted due to cancellation of air traffic;
  • mail from abroad will continue to be delivered but substantial delays may take place;
  • mail currently in transit will be delivered to the extent possible;
  • customer service outlets in shopping centres will be closed;
  • post offices will work 6 hours per day on business days and will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. on selected days or, alternatively, for three hours on Saturdays. See here for post office opening hours (in Polish);
  • courier mail will continue to be delivered but delays should be expected.

 

7. Banks

The Polish Bank Association (ZBP) issued a communiqué on 16.03.2020, declaring help for those affected by the Coronavirus. ZBP offers:

  • loan repayments deferred for 3 months (maximum deferral allowed by law) and total loan repayment period extended also by 3 months on condition the term of any collateral/security is also extended; solutions to help borrowers will be introduced with respect to housing and consumer loans for individuals and business loans and will involve, e.g., quicker processing of applications from borrowers with substantiated need for deferral (suspension) of repayments due to financial distress caused by the epidemic;
  • assistance to all businesses which were creditworthy as at 2019 year-end and are affected by the Coronavirus, if their credit facilities are due for extension during the months to come (upon application, the facilities will be extended by 6 months);
  • banks will not charge frees for acceptance and processing of applications to suspend loan repayments or interest payments. They will also reduce the related formalities, i.e. borrowers will not need to submit additional documents and certificates specifically attesting to their current credit standing. Banks will make sure such applications can be filed electronically, e.g. by email, on-line banking or by phone, as appropriate given the communication channels provided for in customer's contract with the bank;
  • help to business customers by providing them with access to short-term stabilisation loans.

 

While, importantly, ZBP's guidance or recommendations do not bind the banks, they may be expected to comply.

In addition, on 16.03.2020, Adam Glapiński as President of the National Bank of Poland (NBP) said he would recommend that the Monetary Policy Council reduce NBP interest rates as yet another measure designed to mitigate the adverse economic impact of the epidemic. See here or here for more on this (in Polish).

 

8. ZUS

According to the government's website (see here), the social security institution ZUS contemplates a number of measures to assist businesses having problems with ensuring ZUS compliance.

According to the press (news dated 17.03.2020), ZUS President has responded to various proposals from the business by introducing the following forms of relief:

  • Contribution payments for February, March and April 2020 can be deferred on request by 3 months (applies also to payments that are overdue);
  • Payments under payment-in-instalments arrangements that have already been formalised will be suspended and deferred by 3 months;
  • Simplified payment process for February-April 2020: There will be one application form containing an additional box for the firm to declare how the epidemic rendered it unable to pay what is due. All such applications will be treated as applications for de minimis aid. They can be filed via PUE, by email or using physical drop-boxes in ZUS offices. Once an application is submitted, ZUS will send the applicant a special agreement with ZUS for signature and a SUDOP statement (notice of amount of aid received during last 3 years);
  • Enforcement to be put on hold – Overdue payments for February, March or April 2020 will not be enforced from active remitters who did not have any overdue contributions before February 2020.

 

For more information on these changes, see here and here (in Polish). Note, though, that ZUS's declarations of support for businesses under the existing law have not so far been formalised in any binding decision. The proposed relief is not an obligation on ZUS and will be granted on a discretionary basis on review of relevant applications; the arguments put forth in the applications may but are not necessarily bound to be accepted. There has been no official communiqué from ZUS on this matter yet.

 

Current news bulletin published by the Office of the Prime Minister (in Polish)

 

Sources for the above links (in Polish):

https://www.biznes.gov.pl/pl/nowe-propozycje-nad-ktorymi-prace-zaczelo-ministerstwo-rozwoju-ktore-maja-wesprzec-firmy-dotkniete-rozprzestrzenianiem-sie-koronawirusa

https://www.premier.gov.pl/multimedia/wideo/konferencja-nt-zamkniecia-granic.html

https://www.podatki.gov.pl/wyjasnienia/wsparcie-dla-przedsiebiorcow-w-zwiazku-z-koronawirusem/

https://www.podatki.gov.pl/glos-podatnika/

https://www.gov.pl/web/kas/e-usluga-zamiast-wizyty-w-urzedzie-skarbowym

https://www.biznes.gov.pl/pl/firma/zus/chce-rozliczac-zus/oplacanie-skladek-zus/jak-oplacac-skladki-zus#9

http://www.poczta-polska.pl/zmiany-w-zwiazku-z-wprowadzeniem-stanu-zagrozenia-epidemicznego/

http://placowki.poczta-polska.pl/

https://www.premier.gov.pl/komunikaty-cir.html

https://www.gov.pl/web/finanse/ministerstwo-finansow-z-pomoca-dla-msp

https://www.zbp.pl/Aktualnosci/Wydarzenia/Komunikat-ZBP-w-sprawie-dzialan-pomocowych-podejmowanych-przez-banki

 

Less important articles (in Polish):

https://gratka.pl/blog/bez-kategorii/ze-wzgledu-na-koronawirus-deklaracje-podatkowe-mozna-zlozyc-pozniej/88284/

https://businessinsider.com.pl/firmy/przepisy/koronawirus-specustawa-gospodarcza-rzad-przedstawil-zalozenia/nq1b78y

https://www.pitax.pl/wiedza/aktualnosci/rzad-szykuje-pakiet-oslonowy-dla-firm-w-zwiazku-z-koronawirusem/

https://strefabiznesu.pl/koronawirus-16032020-r-splacasz-kredyt-i-boisz-sie-ze-przez-pandemie-i-kwarantanne-nie-bedziesz-mial-na-splate-bank-pomoze-jak/ar/c3-14854749

https://www.bankier.pl/wiadomosc/Glapinski-Bede-proponowal-RPP-obnizenie-stop-procentowych-NBP-7839218.html

https://businessinsider.com.pl/wiadomosci/stopy-procentowe-szef-nbp-chce-ich-obnizenia/rj4ycyq

 

If this issue pertains to your business and you are interested in our assistance, please contact your WTS&SAJA consultant or our office.

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