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Spanish Treasury officials investigate more than 400 gas stations for possible VAT fraud

Jesus Carames

May 14, 2024 | 5:43 p.m.

Officials from the Tax Agency (AEAT) have carried out an operation in more than 400 Spanish gas stations that sell fuel at “abnormally low” prices with the aim of investigating their possible involvement in VAT fraud schemes. This operation, called 'Fuel', took place between Monday and Tuesday of this week, covering fourteen autonomous communities.

Details of Operation 'Fuel' and Investigation Procedures

During the proceedings, AEAT officials requested detailed information from the gas stations investigated. Data collected includes:

  • Fuel suppliers.
  • Supply prices.
  • Place of origin of the product.
  • Collection methods used.

With this information, the Tax Agency will carry out the relevant investigations to detect possible instrumental companies involved in VAT fraud schemes in the hydrocarbon sector. These companies usually do not pay the corresponding VAT, which allows them to offer significantly lower prices than the competition.

Responsibilities and Warnings for Gas Stations

The operation has served to warn gas stations about the legal responsibilities they may incur if they buy fuel from other retailers or if they purchase it at “notoriously anomalous” prices. The AEAT has stressed that the experience of previous appearances in similar businesses has allowed a more effective fight against non-compliance that is susceptible to regularization.

VAT Fraud in the Hydrocarbon Sector

In recent years, VAT fraud in the hydrocarbon sector has materialized through the creation of complex business networks. These networks include instrumental companies that do not comply with their tax obligations, thus allowing the supply of fuel at considerably reduced prices. This practice not only harms the treasury, but also fair competition in the market.

The Tax Agency has intensified its efforts to combat this type of fraud, using strategies that combine data collection on the ground with in-depth analysis of the business structures involved. Operation 'Fuel' is a clear example of these efforts, demonstrating the AEAT's commitment to transparency and tax compliance in the hydrocarbon sector.

Impact of Operation 'Fuel'

The impact of Operation 'Fuel' is expected to be significant on several fronts. First, it can deter other gas stations and companies in the sector from engaging in fraudulent practices. Second, it will improve VAT collection, reducing tax losses associated with these illegal practices. Finally, it will promote greater equity in the market, benefiting companies that operate within the legal framework.

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