Tax litigation in Turkey: overview

A Q&A guide to civil and criminal tax litigation in Turkey.

This Q&A provides a high level overview of the key practical issues in civil and criminal tax litigation, including: pre-court/pre-tribunal process, trial process, documentary evidence, witness evidence, expert evidence, closing the case in civil and criminal trials, decision, judgment or order, costs, appeals, and recent developments and proposals for reform.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the Tax Litigation: Country Q&A tool.

The Q&A is part of the global guide to tax litigation. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit www.practicallaw.com/taxlitigation-guide.

Contents

Overview of tax litigation

Issues subject to tax litigation

1. What are the most common issues subject to tax litigation in your jurisdiction?

In Turkey, the regulation of tax litigation between taxpayers and the government is set out in a series of detailed laws and regulations.

When a conflict or dispute arises between these parties, taxpayers can be subject to either:

  • Administrative fines.

  • Imprisonment, in rare cases.

Disputes that are exclusively tax-related fall within the jurisdiction of Turkey's specialised tax courts.

However, criminal courts with general jurisdiction hear tax disputes involving criminal law offences (such as tax evasion).

Tax disputes generally arise from the distribution of concealed gains through transfer pricing. In addition, there are many tax evasion lawsuits before criminal courts on the grounds of concealment of commercial books and records.

 

Legislative framework

2. Outline the legislative framework and principal pieces of legislation governing both civil and criminal tax litigation.

There is no specific distinction between civil and criminal tax litigation under Turkish law.

The principal pieces of legislation regulating tax litigation in Turkey include the:

  • Code of Administrative Procedure No. 2577.

  • Code on the Establishment and Duties of District Administrative Courts, Administrative Courts and Tax Courts No. 2576.

  • Code on the Council of State No. 2575.

  • Code on the Collection Procedure of Assets No. 6183, which regulates the collection procedure of public receivables involving tax claims.

  • Tax Procedure Code No. 213.

 

Tax evasion and other criminal tax offences

3. What are the key elements that constitute tax evasion and other main criminal tax offences in your jurisdiction?

Tax evasion is a crime under Article 359 of the Tax Procedure Code No. 213, which prohibits:

  • False accounting in commercial books.

  • Improper and inaccurate identification of transactions in commercial books.

  • Concealment of commercial books and records.

  • Suppression commercial books and records.

In the case of false accounting, concealment of commercial books or improper and inaccurate identification of transactions in commercial books, offenders can be subject to imprisonment for between 18 months and three years.

In the case of suppression of books and records, an offender will be sentenced to imprisonment for between three and five years.

 

Pre-court/pre-tribunal process

Assessment, re-assessments and administrative determinations in civil law

4. Outline the procedure for tax assessments, re-assessments and administrative determinations in civil law.

In principle, the Turkish taxation regime is based on a self-assessment system, under which individual taxpayers are responsible for declaring their taxable income. Taxpayers must determine whether a specific type of income is taxable and, if it is, when they must declare it to the Tax Administration.

Throughout the taxation process, taxpayers are in contact with the Tax Administration. The Tax Administration is responsible for every stage of the taxation process. This includes the levying and collection of tax, as well as representing the government during tax disputes. The Tax Administration will also audit taxpayers to determine whether they are meeting or fulfilling their tax obligations and paying the correct amounts.

The Tax Administration conducts an audit and reports its results to the audited party. Tax assessments and fines are initiated by the Tax Administration only. Therefore, the taxpayer must be notified for them to be effective.

At the end of an audit, the Tax Administration can impose an administrative fine on taxpayers that have failed to perform their tax obligations or acted contrary to the Tax Procedure Code No. 213 (usulsuzlük cezası).

If the Tax Administration determines that a taxpayer has under-declared tax and failed to pay the full amount, it will apply a penalty based on the remaining unpaid tax amount (vergi ziyaı cezası).

Taxpayers can request the Tax Administration to revise its decision (Article 10, Code of Administrative Procedure No. 2577). This request must be made within the 30-day period for filing a lawsuit. The relevant administration must respond to this request within 60 days. If a taxpayer makes a revision request, the 30-day period for initiating a lawsuit will be suspended automatically on the date the request is made. If the administration does not respond within 60 days, the request is deemed to be rejected. In such a case, the period for filing a lawsuit will continue to run for the remaining time from the date of refusal.

If the time limit for filing a lawsuit expires, taxpayers can still take make a revision request to the Tax Administration. If the Tax Administration refuses a taxpayer's request, the taxpayer can then make a request to the Ministry of Finance. Refusal by the Ministry of Finance can be challenged before the courts.

Disputes involving customs duties are subject to a separate procedure. Article 242 of the Customs Code No. 4458 specifically regulates the Customs Administration's auditing operations. After receiving a notification, taxpayers must take their requests to the relevant customs authority for objections to customs duties, penalties and administrative decisions. These objections must be made within 15 days of receiving the notification. If the taxpayer's petition is rejected, it is still possible to dispute the refusal before local courts. This is a mandatory procedure and must be completed before the taxpayer can apply for additional judicial remedies. After a taxpayer has exhausted this procedure, it can file a lawsuit against the Custom Administration's findings or fines.

 

Resolving disputes before commencing court proceedings

5. What are the main procedures used to resolve disputes before commencing proceedings in a civil court/tribunal?

There are no mandatory procedures to follow before filing a lawsuit with the tax courts, except for disputes regarding customs duties (see Question 4).

If a taxpayer receives notice from the Tax Administration regarding an administrative fine or the collection of tax, and considers that this notice is unlawful, it can file for a non-compulsory administrative solution, rather than a lawsuit.

Administrative solutions can consist of:

  • Settlements. In accordance with the applicable legislation, the Tax Administration and the taxpayer can choose to settle on the amount of tax, fine and/or penalty. The parties often reach this decision after reciprocal discussions and bargaining. Taxpayers that choose to settle are subsequently prevented from filing a lawsuit. However, if the parties do not reach a settlement, the taxpayer can still file a lawsuit.

  • Reductions of fines or penalties. Taxpayers can apply to the Tax Administration within 30 days of receiving notification and undertake to pay an administrative fine or penalty on the due date. In such a case, the Tax Administration reduces the amount of the administrative fine or penalty. These reductions are only available for fines and penalties.

 

Elements of the offence in criminal law

6. What are the elements of the main criminal law offences in tax litigation?
 

Early resolution

7. What are the main procedures used for the early resolution of criminal law offences before trial?

Despite the severe penalties applicable to cases of tax evasion, the Tax Procedure Code No. 213 provides for a "remorse and correction" exemption for taxpayers who voluntarily notify the Tax Administration of their unlawful actions. In such a case, administrative fines and penalties can be avoided entirely, provided that the taxpayer:

  • Notifies the Tax Administration of the unlawful action before an audit is conducted or any other notification is made to the taxpayer.

  • Finalises or corrects the incorrect declaration within 15 days of the notification date.

  • Pays the full amount of unpaid tax (plus interest) within 15 days of the notification date.

The "remorse and correction" exemption does not apply to property tax or customs duties.

 

Trial process

Format of the hearing/trial

8. What format does the hearing/trial take?

In principle, lawsuits before the tax courts are written proceedings.

Taxpayers can request a trial for disputes where the value of the dispute exceeds a certain amount. The amount is determined annually and is set at TRY31,000 for 2016.

The Turkish Constitution requires court hearings to be open to the public (Article 141). However, all or part of a hearing can be conducted in a closed session where this is absolutely necessary for reasons of public morality or public security. The same principle applies within a tax context (Article 18, Code of Administrative Procedure No. 2577).

A trial can take place even if a party fails to attend.

 

Role of the judge/arbitrator/tribunal members

9. What is the role of the judge/arbitrator/tribunal members in both civil and criminal tax litigation?

Civil tax litigation

Tax courts are the competent judicial authorities for hearing civil tax disputes in Turkey. Tax courts consist of committees, which comprise of at least one judge. Disputes under TRY31,000 (for 2016) are heard by a single tax court judge (Article 7, Code on the Establishment and Duties of District Administrative Courts, Administrative Courts and Tax Courts No. 2576).

Judges must explain the merits of a decision and are not bound by evidence submitted by the parties.

Criminal tax litigation

There are two categories of general criminal courts:

  • Criminal courts of first instance.

  • High criminal courts.

The criminal courts of first instance are competent to hear cases that do not fall within the jurisdiction of other criminal courts.

The high criminal courts have jurisdiction for crimes punishable by life imprisonment, aggravated life imprisonment and imprisonment for more than ten years.

Criminal tax litigation falls within the jurisdiction of the criminal courts of first instance, as the term of imprisonment envisaged for tax evasion is below ten years.

The criminal courts of first instance have one judge, who reviews the facts of the dispute ex officio.

 

Commencement of proceedings: civil law

10. What is the procedure for commencing tax litigation proceedings in civil law and/or a taxpayer appealing a decision of the tax authority?

Civil tax litigation disputes can only involve tax amounts and administrative fines or penalties that have been directly assessed by the Tax Administration.

As a general rule, taxpayers cannot file a lawsuit against an assessment unless they have made a declaration without prejudice (that is, stating that that they object to the tax/penalty imposed). In the case of a without prejudice declaration, taxpayers will reserve their right to file a lawsuit within 30 days after receiving notification of the tax or penalty.

The general time limit for filing a lawsuit before the tax courts is 30 days from the date the notification is served. However, the time frame for filing lawsuits against payment orders for tax collection is seven days from the date the order is served.

Taxpayers must submit their lawsuit petition to the appropriate court within the relevant period and pay a filing fee (TRY29.20 for 2016).

Where a taxpayer duly and correctly submits its petition in a timely manner, the Tax Administration is given notice and has 30 days to submit a reply.

The taxpayer will receive notice of the Tax Administration's initial reply and can then submit a reply within 30 days. The Tax Administration will be notified of the taxpayer's reply and can choose to submit a second reply within 30 days. The exchange of petitions is completed once the taxpayer receives notification of the Tax Administration's second reply.

In practice, government replies are generally pre-prepared and only contain references to the relevant regulations.

 
11. Must a taxpayer pay the disputed tax before leave to appeal the tax authority's decision is granted?

Once a legal action is commenced, the assessment process will be automatically suspended. Taxpayers do not have to pay the disputed tax before filing a lawsuit. However, if they prefer to pay the disputed tax, they must pay it without prejudice to their right to file a lawsuit.

However, when a lawsuit is brought against a payment order for tax collection, execution does not automatically stop, but must be requested from the court when filing the lawsuit petition.

 

Commencement of proceedings: criminal law

12. What is the procedure for commencing tax litigation proceedings in criminal law?

Public prosecutors can initiate their investigation based on a complaint or any information suggesting criminal activities. The Tax Administration must submit its opinions to the public prosecutor in order for the public prosecutor to commence a criminal investigation against a taxpayer. The public prosecutor cannot initiate an independent investigation, even if it becomes aware that tax evasion has occurred (Article 367, Tax Procedure Code No. 213). Rather, the prosecutor must first notify the Tax Administration, which will inquire into whether there is any basis for a criminal investigation.

If the public prosecutor believes that the collected evidence shows any possibility of a crime being committed, it will prepare an indictment. During the investigation stage, the public prosecutor can attempt to collect more evidence, including taking the suspect's defence.

Criminal proceedings start if the public prosecutor's indictment is accepted by the criminal court. During criminal proceedings, the government can submit its assessment and opinions at any time. Unlike under civil law, there is no specific procedure for submitting a petition.

The presentation of evidence cannot be rejected on the ground of late notification of such evidence (Article 207, Criminal Procedure Code No. 5271).

 

Government response

13. How has the government responded to recent civil and criminal law cases to improve the court procedure?

Civil law

See Question 36.

Criminal law

See Question 37.

 

Burden of proof

14. What is the burden of proof in both civil and criminal tax litigation proceedings?

Under Turkish law, including in tax-related disputes, any party that makes an allegation bears the burden of proving it, in accordance with the appropriate quantum of proof.

Civil law

There are certain presumptions under Turkish law that shift the burden of proof. One presumption concerns the obligation to comply with book and document orders under the Tax Procedure Code No. 213. Taxpayers must document tax matters using their record books, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and practices. Provided that taxpayers comply with these principles and practices, tax authorities will automatically deem the information contained within records and books to be accurate and complete. The burden of proof rests with the Tax Administration to rebut this presumption.

Another important obligation results from the overriding economical approach in Turkish law. Taxpayers must prove that their commercial transactions, relationships, purchase and sale transactions, and the nature and form of documents drafted by them comply with commercial customs and ordinary conditions. This presumption typically favours the Tax Administration, and taxpayers have the burden of proof for refuting these norms.

Criminal law

Under Turkish law, the presumption of innocence applies to persons charged with a crime, until each element of the offence has been determined at trial. Therefore, the burden of proof in all criminal matters rests with the Tax Administration (represented by the public prosecutor).

 

Main stages

15. What are the main stages of typical court proceedings for tax disputes?

Civil law

The main stages of typical civil court proceedings for tax disputes are as follows:

  • The taxpayer files a lawsuit within 30 days from the date of assessment/reassessment confirmation notice (Article 7, Code of Administrative Procedure No. 2577 (Code No. 2577)).

  • The Tax Administration can file and serve a reply within 30 days of service of the lawsuit notice (Article 16, Code No. 2577).

  • The taxpayer can file an answer within 30 days after the service of the Tax Administration's reply (Article 16, Code No. 2577).

  • The Tax Administration can file and serve a second reply within 30 days after the service of the taxpayer's answer (Article 16, Code No. 2577).

  • The inspection of documents takes place at any time after the petition and the replies are served (Articles 14 and 15, Code No. 2577).

  • A trial takes place if the taxpayer and/or the Tax Administration request a trial (Articles 17 and 18, Code No. 2577).

  • The examination for discovery takes place after pleadings are closed (Article 20, Code No. 2577).

  • The judgment is issued within 15 days following the trial, if a trial has been requested (Articles 19, 22, 24 and 25, Code No. 2577).

  • The appellate or objection procedure must be commenced within 30 days from the date of notice of the final judgment of the tax court (Articles 45 and 46, Code No. 2577).

  • The correction of the judgment can be requested from the date of notice of the judgment (Article 54, Code No. 2577).

However, if there is a dispute regarding customs, the taxpayer must file a petition of objection to the Customs Administrations within 15 days from the date of the assessment/reassessment confirmation notice (Article 242, Code of Customs). The other stages of the procedure are then the same as described above.

For payment orders regarding tax collection, lawsuits must be filed within seven days from the date the order is served.

Criminal law

The main stages of typical criminal court proceedings for tax disputes are as follows:

  • Notification of tax evasion by the Tax Administration to the public prosecutor.

  • Criminal investigation by the public prosecutor.

  • Draft of indictment.

  • Acceptance of indictment by the criminal court.

  • Trial, which includes the following stages:

    • oral defence of the defendant;

    • examination of witnesses;

    • expert review; and

    • assessment of evidence.

  • Judgment.

  • Appellate procedure, which must be commenced within seven days from the announcement of the judgment (if the defendant attends the trial) or from notification of the judgment.

 

Documentary evidence

Disclosure of documents in civil proceedings

16. What documents must the parties disclose to the other parties and/or the court in civil proceedings? Are there any detailed rules governing this procedure?

Parties must disclose all documents proving their claims and defence, and serve these documents to the counterparty.

Additionally, under the Tax Procedure Code No. 213, a significant part of the taxation process must be documented. These matters can only be proved through documentary evidence.

 

Special rules/considerations

17. Are there any special rules or considerations concerning the disclosure or discovery of documents in civil tax litigation?

There is no reciprocal examination of evidence prior to trial. Additionally, the parties cannot ask each other to explain the evidence presented. The Tax Administration prohibits taxpayers from examining its transaction files until trial.

Communications and documentation between taxpayers and their attorneys are deemed confidential and protected from disclosure.

 

Disclosure in criminal proceedings

18. What documents must the parties disclose to the other parties and/or the court in criminal proceedings? Are there any detailed rules governing this procedure?

The defendant (taxpayer) can receive and review all of the evidence that the Tax Administration or public prosecutor submits in support of its case. However, the defendant cannot access third parties' personal information that has been used to prove the claim.

 

Special rules/considerations

19. Are there any special rules or considerations concerning the disclosure of documents in criminal tax litigation?

Turkish law recognises the privilege against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent. Therefore, no person can be forced to submit detrimental evidence.

However, concealing commercial books, records and documents constitutes the crime of tax evasion (Article 359, Tax Procedure Code No. 213). In practice, failing to submit commercial books, records and documents to authorised officers during an examination can constitute concealing. Therefore, there are circumstances where a taxpayer can be forced to submit incriminating commercial books, records and documents. This provision has been intensely criticised as violating the right to remain silent.

 

Witness evidence

Trial considerations

20. Do witnesses of fact give oral evidence or do they just submit written evidence? Is there a right to cross-examine witnesses of fact?

Civil law

All types of evidence can be submitted in tax-related disputes, except oaths (Article 3, Tax Procedure Code No. 213 (Code No. 213)).

Witness statements are admissible as evidence in Turkish tax litigation. To be admissible, the statement must be relevant to the act that gives rise to the tax. Explicit references will demonstrate an economic connection between the witness and the act. Statements with only an incidental connection to the case are not admissible.

However, a part of the legal doctrine and some higher judicial bodies argue that witnesses are not admissible in tax litigation, as tax litigation is resolved through written proceedings.

A claimant taxpayer's certified public accountant can be heard by the judge, along with the tax audit personnel who conducted the examination (Duplicated Article 378, Code No. 213).

At trial, the parties cannot question witnesses. The judge is responsible for asking questions, but can consider question requests from the parties. Accordingly, it is not possible to cross-examine witnesses.

Criminal law

Before hearing a witness, the judge must:

  • Explain the subject of the lawsuit to the witness.

  • Show the accused (if present) to the witness. If the accused is not present, his identity must be revealed to the witness.

The witness must be requested to tell everything he knows on the matters about which he is going to testify, and cannot be interrupted during his hearing as a witness.

The judge can ask a witness additional questions to clarify, complete and evaluate the sources of his knowledge on the subject of his testimony.

There is no cross-examination in criminal law and witnesses can only be interrogated by judges.

The public prosecutor, the defence counsel or the lawyer who participates in the hearing as a representative can only ask questions to witnesses if they first make a request to the judge. If there is an objection against the directed questions, then the judge renders a decision on whether these questions can be asked.

 

Witness preparation

21. Provide a brief outline of the procedure for preparing witnesses in both civil and criminal cases. Are there any special or unique features to consider for witness evidence in criminal cases?

Civil law

The taxpayer must submit a list of its witnesses with the lawsuit petition. The judge invites the witnesses to submit their testimony at trial.

However, since trials are rare in civil tax litigation, witnesses generally make their statements before notary publics, rather than attending trial. The notarised witness statements are then submitted to the judge.

Criminal law

Witnesses are invited to court by summons (Article 43, Criminal Procedure Code No. 5271). The summons must contain a caution about the consequences of failure to appear. Where the suspect is under arrest, a subpoena order can be issued for witnesses. The subpoena order must contain an explanation of reasons for the subpoena.

 

Hearsay evidence in civil and criminal trials

22. Are there any rules concerning the introduction of hearsay evidence in civil and criminal trials?

Civil trials

Hearsay evidence is not admissible in civil tax trials. Statements with only an incidental connection with the act that gives rise to the tax are not admissible.

Tax litigation involves written proceedings and written evidence. Therefore, taxpayers must prove their defence through written records and commercial books.

However, in some cases, witness statements by a taxpayer's certified public accountant are admissible as evidence. To be admissible, the statement must be relevant to the act that gives rise to the tax.

Criminal trials

The judge can only rely on evidence presented before him at trial (Article 217, Criminal Procedure Code No. 5271). Evidence is assessed using judicial discretion and offences can be proved using any type of lawfully obtained evidence. The principle of circumstantial evidence applies during criminal procedures, and requires the judge to assess the evidentiary weight of each item of evidence on a case-by-case basis.

 

Expert evidence

Expert reports in civil trials

23. What are the rules concerning the introduction of expert reports in civil trials?

All types of evidence can be submitted in tax-related disputes, except oaths (Article 3, Tax Procedure Code No. 213).

Turkish civil tax litigation allows reports from party-appointed experts, which are prepared in support of the party's claims.

 

Expert evidence in civil trials

24. What are the rules concerning the introduction of expert evidence in civil trials?

Expert examination is governed by the provisions of the Turkish Civil Procedural Code No. 6100.

Expert evidence is rare in civil tax litigation, although the court has the discretion to refer to an expert if it wishes. If either party wishes to use expert evidence, they must submit this evidence before the judgment is made.

Expert evidence is not binding on judges.

 

Expert evidence in criminal trials

25. What are the rules concerning the introduction of expert evidence in criminal trials? Is it possible to introduce expert reports?

Expert evidence

Nearly every criminal trial involves expert evidence. Judges refer to expert evidence to determine whether the material elements of the offence have been met.

The judge is responsible for selecting experts in criminal matters.

Parties can respond to expert evidence. After these responses, the court can decide to obtain additional evidence from the same expert or refer to an alternative expert committee. Where there is a conflict between evidence provided by two experts, the judge can request a third piece of expert evidence.

Expert evidence is not binding on judges.

Expert reports

Expert reports are used for technical matters. The defendant can ask an expert to produce a scientific opinion report which he will use to evaluate the issues at trial, or to evaluate other expert evidence (Article 67, Criminal Procedure Code No. 5271). Defendants are not entitled to request additional time for this purpose.

 

Special considerations

26. Are there any special considerations for introducing expert evidence/reports in both civil and criminal trials?

Civil trials

See Questions 23 and 24.

Criminal trials

See Question 25.

 

Closing the case in civil trials

27. What are the rules governing the submission of both written and oral argument in closing a civil trial?

Turkish tax litigation is conducted mostly through written proceedings. Therefore, cases are finalised only after the parties have exchanged petitions.

The taxpayer's lawsuit petition must be served to the Tax Administration. The Tax Administration must submit its pleading within 30 days of service of the petition. The taxpayer then has 30 days from the notification date to respond to this pleading.

The Tax Administration must also receive notification of the taxpayer's reply. Following this, the Tax Administration has 30 days from the notification date to submit its second reply.

Ether party can ask the court to conduct a trial, which will result in a final judgment.

The court gives precise deadlines for the proceedings for expediency purposes. However, parties can file other declarations besides those mentioned above, up until the final decision is rendered.

 

Closing the case in criminal trials

28. What are the rules governing the submission of both written and oral argument in closing a criminal trial?

During Turkish criminal proceedings, the court can conduct any research or examination that it deems necessary to determine the truth. These actions are not subject to any time constraints. The court can also hold as many hearings as it sees fit. The court can conclude a proceeding whenever it is satisfied that all the necessary information and documents have been obtained.

 

Decision, judgment or order

Civil law cases

29. What are the rules governing the issuance of a decision in civil cases?

After the parties have completed their submissions, the court renders its decision. However, if the court holds a trial, it must provide a decision within 15 days of the trial date.

A decision must include:

  • A summary of the parties' allegations.

  • The party's arguments.

  • The legal reasons justifying the court's decision.

Each party receives a written copy of the court's decision.

 

Criminal law cases

30. What are the rules governing the issuance of a decision in criminal cases?

There are several requirements for criminal decisions, which apply in addition to those outlined in Question 29.

Criminal decisions must include:

  • A list of the suspect's criminal actions.

  • A definition of the crimes.

  • The defence's arguments.

  • The court's analysis of the evidence.

  • The final judicial decision.

There is no time requirement to render a criminal law decision.

 

Costs

31. How is the issue of costs determined in both civil and criminal cases?

Civil law

Tax litigation falls under the administrative jurisdiction. The primary goal of Turkey's tax authorities is to prevent the government from violating individuals' rights. For this reason, individuals must be able to freely assert their rights and take actions to defend them. Taxpayers pay a fixed fee when commencing a legal action, irrespective of the amount in dispute. In 2016, legal fees are about TRY140, including:

  • TRY29.20 for the application.

  • TRY4.30 for proxy fees.

  • TRY100 for postage costs.

The application fee is refunded to the taxpayer if it succeeds in the litigation.

The losing party must also cover the winning party's attorney fees.

In addition, in light of recent case law of the Council of State, civil courts have started issuing decisions ordering the payment of interest from the date of the revision of request to the Tax Authority (Article 112, Tax Procedure Code No. 213). However, this approach has not been adopted by all civil courts yet.

Criminal law

There are no costs for taxpayers in the criminal context, even if the process is conducted on behalf of the government ex officio. All costs are covered by the court.

 

Appeals

Right to appeal in civil law

32. What are the main grounds for appealing a civil law decision?

Civil tax litigation procedures have been amended by Law No. 6545 of 18 June 2014. However, the new legislation has not entered into force yet. Therefore, former procedural rules continue to apply. See Question 36 for further information related to the new procedural rules.

The current administrative procedure involves two levels of judgment, which involve tax courts of first instance, and the district administrative courts and Council of State at second instance.

There are two specific appeal procedures available against judicial decisions of tax courts of first instance:

 

Procedure to appeal in civil law

33. What is the procedure for appealing a civil law decision?

Objection

The parties have 30 days to appeal a tax court ruling given by a sole judge.

As of 2016, objections are only possible where the amount in dispute is below TRY31,000. Objections must be made to the district administrative court located in the same area as the relevant tax court of first instance.

The district administrative court can examine the case and provide a new decision. The court can conduct an investigation and issue a new ruling based on the facts of the case or the parties' arguments. However, in some cases, the district administrative court cannot render a new decision. For example, where the court accepts objections against a procedural decision or where the first judge lacked jurisdiction to decide the case, the matter must be sent back to the tax court for a new decision.

The judgments rendered by district administrative courts on objections against decisions of courts of first instance cannot be appealed before the Council of State.

Appeal

Decisions by a committee of judges can be appealed to the Council of State within 30 days of notification of the decision. Decisions by a single judge cannot be appealed to the Council of State.

The Council of State does not re-examine a case's material facts, factual disputes, or evidentiary disputes. Instead, it examines whether the decision was rendered in accordance with judgment procedures and whether legislation was applied correctly.

If the Council of State detects an illegality, it reverses the decision and sends the case back to the court of first instance, and does not re-hear the case itself. The Council can consider matters that occurred after the initial decision, where these may affect the final decision.

The appeal petition must be notified to every opposing party, which can submit a response within 30 days of receiving notification. The opposing party can also submit a new appeal with their response, even if they have not appealed within the required time frame.

In principle, the commencement of a legal action suspends execution of the administrative tax assessment process. However, if a court of first instance rejects a legal action filed by a taxpayer, the Tax Administration can start the process again. Therefore, a suspension of execution should be requested at the appeal stage.

The Council of State has several options available after conducting its examination:

  • Approve the decision.

  • Approve the decision after rectifying its material mistakes (if any).

  • Reverse the decision in whole or in part.

When a decision is reversed, the case is sent back to the tax court of first instance. The court of first instance gives a new decision and can either:

  • Abide by the reversal decision.

  • Reinstate its initial decision. If this occurs, the case is sent to the General Assembly of Tax Courts

The parties can also appeal the tax court's new decision and have the matter considered by the General Assembly of Tax Courts. It is mandatory to comply with the decisions of the General Assembly of Tax Courts.

 

Right to appeal in criminal law

34. What are the main grounds for appealing a criminal law decision?

Taxpayers can appeal criminal decisions within seven days after the ruling is announced. If the suspect is absent for the decision, the deadline will commence after he has received notice of the decision.

Appeals are made to the criminal departments of the Court of Cassation.

 

Procedure to appeal in criminal law

35. What is the procedure for appealing a criminal law decision?

The Court of Cassation can reverse a decision where it considers that the appeal is justified. Depending on the merits of the case, the court can decide to dismiss the case and acquit the accused without conducting another investigation, instead of reversing the previous decision.

If the decision is reversed, the court of first instance will rectify any deficiencies and provide a new decision. The parties' comments about the reversal are also taken into consideration. The court of first instance can reinstate its original decision, in which case the case will be sent to the General Criminal Assembly of the Court of Cassation. If one of the parties appeals the new decision of first instance, the General Criminal Assembly of Court of Cassation will conduct an examination. Decisions of the General Criminal Assembly are final.

 

Recent civil law developments and proposals for reform

36. Outline the main recent civil law developments in tax litigation in your jurisdiction. Are there any proposals to reform civil law tax litigation?

Civil tax litigation procedures were broadly amended by Law No. 6545 of 18 June 2014. New procedures will enter into force on 20 July 2016.

The new provisions introduce an additional stage of appeal and abolish the objection procedure (see Question 33). District administrative courts will hear cases as the first court of appeal. Decisions of the district administrative courts will not be final and will be appealable before the Council of State

Additionally, district administrative courts will examine both the dispute's material facts and the first instance judgment's compliance with the law.

Only lawsuits exceeding TRY100,000 will be appealable to the Council of State.

A new mechanism called "urgent proceedings" will be introduced to settle disputes more quickly. Decisions given as a result of an urgent proceeding will only be appealable to the Council of State within 15 days of notification.

Finally, the "correction of decision" procedure will be abolished.

 

Recent criminal law developments and proposals for reform

37. Outline the main recent criminal law developments in tax litigation in your jurisdiction. Are there any proposals to reform criminal law tax litigation?

There are no recent criminal law developments in tax litigation.

 

Online resources

Official legislation

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2575.pdf

Description. Code of Administrative Procedure No. 2577 (in Turkish).

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2576.pdf

Description. Code on the Establishment and Duties of District Administrative Courts, Administrative Courts and Tax Courts No. 2576 (in Turkish).

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2577.pdf

Description. Code of Administrative Procedure No. 2577 (in Turkish).

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.3.6183.pdf

Description. Code on the Collection Procedure of Assets No. 6183 (in Turkish).

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.4.213.pdf

Description. Tax Procedure Code No. 213 (in Turkish).

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.5271.pdf

Description. Turkish Criminal Procedure Code No. 5271 (in Turkish).

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.5237.pdf

Description. Turkish Criminal Code (in Turkish).

W www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.6100.pdf

Description. Turkish Civil Procedural Code No. 6100 (in Turkish).

W www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2014/06/20140628-9.htm

Description. Code Regarding Amendments to the Turkish Criminal Code and Certain Codes (in Turkish).

W www.gib.gov.tr/fileadmin/beyannamerehberi/vergiuyusyargi92.pdf

Description. Guideline Prepared by the Revenue Administration on Settlement of Tax Disputes Before Judicial Authorities (in Turkish).

W www.legislationline.org/documents/id/17788

Description. Turkish Criminal Procedure Code No. 5271 (in English).



Contributor profiles

Benan Arseven, Partner

Moroğlu Arseven

T +90 212 377 47 40
F +90 212 377 47 99
E barseven@morogluarseven.com
W www.morogluarseven.com

Professional qualifications. Istanbul Bar Association, Turkey, 1997; Registered Trade Mark Attorney, Turkey, 1997

Areas of practice. Cross-border and domestic corporate and commercial transactions; mergers and acquisitions; joint venture competition and commercial regulations; distribution agreements; tax and fiscal law; project finance; healthcare; energy; sports and entertainment law; technology and telecoms; real estate.

Languages. Turkish, English

Non-professional qualifications. LLB, Istanbul University, School of Law, 1996

Professional associations/memberships.

  • International Bar Association (IBA).
  • International Sports Lawyers Association (ISLA).
  • Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA).
  • British Chamber of Commerce of Turkey.
  • MIT Enterprise Forum Turkey.
  • Regularly attends international legal conferences and often invited to be a speaker or presenter on topics such as sports and commercial law.

Z Ertunç Şirin, Assistant Professor

Istanbul University Law School, Department of Fiscal Law

E ertunc@istanbul.edu.tr

Professional qualifications. Istanbul Bar Association, Turkey, 1996

Areas of practice. Tax, fiscal and administrative matters including financing transactions; tax structuring in mergers and acquisitions and commercial transactions; tax and public law litigation; foreign capital investments; private-public partnerships.

Non-professional qualifications. PhD in Law, Istanbul University, Institute of Social Science, 2005; Master of Laws, Istanbul University, Institute of Social Science, 1999; Istanbul University, School of Law, 1995

Languages. Turkish, English

Professional associations/memberships. International Fiscal Association.


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