Written by: René Jakl
Photo by: René Jakl
The law on electronic signatures has been in effect since 2000, but not until this past March have the first people been able to take advantage of this and save a trip to the financial office or post office. Since March, the Ministry of Finance has made it possible to declare road taxes, real estate taxes and value-added taxes electronically over the internet.
How does this procedure work and who does it benefit? First, we should repeat some basic information. Electronic signatures on certain documents originate in such a way that the author processes it with a special computer program, the so-called private key. Then the author sends the document to the receiver. The receiver opens the message with the electronic signature by using his program, the so-called public key, and he immediately finds the answers to basic questions – if the message actually originated from the rightful sender, or if the message has been altered along the way. According to Adrián Čech from the law office of Balcar, Polanský & Company, the electronic signature has, in principle, the same validity as a classic signature. In practice, a person who wishes to declare taxes over the internet opens the website of the Ministry of Finance (adis.mfcr.cz/adis/jepo/index.html), fills in the tax return and sends out the document signed with his electronic signature. For now, the ministry has only created this application for Internet Explorer, version 5.01 and higher, which works on the Windows platform. The so-called guaranteed electronic signature with the qualified certificate that the financial office requires for communication is, for now, only issued by 1. Certifikační agentura, a subsidiary of PVT. Its basic version costs CZK 700 per year. For more information visit the agency’s website at www.ica.cz. For now, if you count only direct costs, an electronically signed return is expensive for small businesses because the price for a registered letter with four quarterly VAT declarations and one road tax declaration is under CZK 100. The situation in larger companies, if they communicate with authorities more often, is different. The so-called e-form, which is the intermediate stage between a tax return signed in the classic way and the electronic way, will probably grab the interest of those people who spend an hour or more in line at the post office on the last day before the deadline. First, the tax payer sends the filled-in tax return, without an electronic signature, to the financial office and then within three days he confirms his declaration by mail.