Bahrain - Authorities conducted more than 3,000 inspection visits last year, resulting in 1,700 value-added tax (VAT) and excise violations, the National Bureau for Revenue has said.

The violations required the imposition of administrative fines in accordance with the VAT and Excise Law, it said yesterday.

Several cases of suspicions of VAT and excise evasion required the precautionary closing of several businesses.

The bureau has taken legal action against the violating businesses, and referred those who are proven to have committed the evasion to the competent authorities to initiate a criminal case against them.

These may be punishable by imprisonment for five years and a fine equivalent to three times the amount of VAT due according to the VAT law, or by imprisonment for one year and a fine equivalent to double the evaded excise according to the Excise law.

The campaigns were organised as a part of the bureau’s ongoing efforts to protect consumer rights and enhance the level of business compliance and its commitment to strengthen control over local markets to ensure the effective implementation of VAT and excise.

These efforts include the implementation of the Digital Stamps Scheme on cigarette products to guarantee that businesses are aware of the scheme and the mandatory presence of digital stamps on all cigarette products available in the local markets, in addition to spread awareness of procedures, it said.

These efforts come as part of the regular inspection and control procedures that are carried out using the cutting-edge tools and latest field electronic mechanisms adopted by the bureau during inspections.

They contribute to tightening control over local markets, addressing tax evasion, and preventing the possession, trade, sale, or supply of products that have not fulfilled their VAT or excise obligations, which includes the Digital Stamps Scheme, which entered into force on October 16 last year, on cigarette products in the local markets.

The bureau said it will continue the inspection campaigns in co-operation with the concerned entities, aiming to urge all businesses registered with it to adhere to the application of legislation to prevent violations and to ensure the success of the various stages of implementation.

For inquiries related to VAT and excise or to report any violations, call 80008001, available 24/7, or get in touch through the National Suggestions & Complaints System (Tawasul), for VAT-related queries and for Digital Stamps Scheme queries.

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