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    Mediation as an alternative instrument for settling tax disputes

    An often heard argument for mediation as an alternative instrument for settling disputes is that parties agree on more than just their immediate dispute, but also solve the underlying conflict and find a long term solution. In the opinion of the legislator legal proceeding should be seen as a last resort and that parties should first endeavor to solve their disputes in consultation.

    For this reason a bill is proposed that gives mediation a legal foundation as alternative instrument for settling disputes between citizens and the government, and more specifically, the tax authorities. The author of the bill stresses that mediation can contribute to a less juridical and more efficient way of dispute settlement and underlines that by solving problems without going to court the necessary trust in the government will be maintained or restored.

    In the bill the mediation route is proposed as a voluntary alternative that is preferable initiated by the taxpayer by filing a request thereto. The tax authorities have been instructed to - in principle - agree to such a request, unless the dispute concerns a pure question of law which should obviously be settled by a judge.

    Although this bill does not force taxpayers and the tax authorities to endeavor to solve their disputes in consultation before bringing their case to court, this bill might be useful for taxpayers to persuade the tax authorities to give it a try.