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Parliament Gives Tax Offices Access to Bank Accounts

Warsaw, April 26 (RFE/RL) - Poland's parliament (Sejm) has approved a new bill that gives tax authorities access to individual bank accounts.

The new regulations - still subject to Senate and Presidential approval - would allow tax officials the authority to check private bank accounts of Poles suspected of evading taxes. At present, Polish tax authorities must seek court approval to gain such access.

The regulations state that officials will be allowed to scrutinize the accounts only if a taxpayer previously denied information on his income. They will be entitled to share the information with the finance minister, the prosecutor general, the supreme court and the main administrative court.

Poland's Coalition Parties (SLD/PSL) say the provisions, which passed the Sejm by a vote of 217-20 with 44 abstentions, are needed to enable Poland to join the organization for economic cooperation and development. Poland hopes to join the OECD this year. The Opposition Freedom Union, as well as bankers, say the bill could undermine Poles' trust in the country's banks and lead to their losses.