Turkey: An Overview Of Tax Crimes And Penalties

Last Updated: 20 November 2015
Article by Alper Uzun


Tax crimes may be defined, in short, as economic crimes perpetrated against the "public treasury." Through the commission of a criminal act, the interest of the public treasury, in a wider sense, the interest of the general public is violated. The aim of the penalty is, therefore, the timely payment of taxes due. The principles pertaining to tax crimes and penalties are regulated under the Tax Procedure Code ("TPC"). Some of the crimes and penalties stipulated under the TPC solely concern the tax law, and tax offices can directly apply these penalties without further need of a judicial decision. The acts within this scope are evaluated as "financial crimes and penalties." On the other hand, other crimes and penalties regulated under the TPC are crimes according to criminal law, and are punishable by restricting freedom. These are determined as "criminal crimes and penalties"1.

Types of Tax Crimes and Penalties

Financial Crimes and Penalties

As exemplified with loss of tax revenue and non-compliance, these types of tax crimes, which are punishable by monetary fines and detected and applied by tax offices, are crimes within the sense of "tax law." These crimes may be committed without deliberate intent.

Loss of tax revenue is defined in Art. 341 of the TPC as "Loss of tax revenue means late or incomplete accrual of tax due to the non-performance or ill-performance of a taxpayer of a liable person of their obligations regarding taxation. Incomplete accrual of tax or unlawful return of tax because of misleading declarations of personal, marital status of familial situation, or other reasons shall also be deemed as loss of tax revenue."

Art. 344 defines a criminal act of the loss of tax revenue: "Given that the tax revenue is lost due to the reasons listed under Art. 341, the taxpayer or the liable person shall be fined with the amount of tax revenue lost. If the loss of tax revenue occurs as a result of an act stipulated under Art. 359, a triple fine shall be applied, and to those who are complicit in the act, a single fine is applied."

Non-compliance is stipulated under Art. 351 et seq. of the TPC. Accordingly, "non-compliance" means the failure to comply with the material and procedural rules of tax laws. As a result of the loss of tax revenue, some tax is evaded; whereas, in the event of non-compliance, the tax is not yet lost. Instead, through their non-compliance with formal or procedural tax rules, taxpayers, or the liable persons are trying to create a feasible environment for such loss. Art. 352 et seq. of the TPC lists the relevant acts of non-compliance and their respective penalties. These crimes are categorized as 1st Tier, 2nd Tier, and are acts that garner a special penalty. The non-compliant acts are penalized in accordance with the tiers specified in the code and with the table provided therein. Given that the described act of non-compliance requires ex officio discretion, the relevant fines shall be doubled. 1st Tier non-compliances are as follows: Failure to make tax payments and fee declarations in a timely fashion; Failure to keep the books deemed necessary in accordance with the TPC; Incomplete, non-compliant, and unorderly keeping of the books to the extent that they renders a clean tax audit impossible; Non-acceptance of the invitation made by village councilmen and community council pursuant to Art. 245, by farmers; Non-compliance with the rules of bookkeeping set out in the TPC; Not declaring the commencement of work on time; Failure to certify one of the books that is required to be certified (Certification that is made 1 month after the legal period has expired shall be deemed non-existent); Failure to levy a tax, even though the levy period has passed; Declaring inheritance and transfer tax within the time periods specified under Art. 342/2.

2nd Tier non-compliances are as follows: Declaring the inheritance and transfer tax within the time periods specified under Art. 342/1 after the expiry of their declaration periods; Failure to provide the seeding and counting declarations in time, or wholly; Failure to make the necessary written declarations specified in tax laws (except the commencement of work declaration); Failure to obtain the tax card although the period within which to obtain the same has expired for 15 days; Certifying the books that are required to be certified within 1 month after the expiry of their certification period; Failure to comply with the rules regulating the form and content of tax declarations, notifications, documents and copies and their annexes; Non-existence or non-declaration of some documents and copies, provided that this does not disturb the correctness and clarity of the account or transactions.

"Special Non-Compliances" can be exemplified as the failure to give or receive receipts, non-compliance with other formal or procedural rules, non-compliances pertaining to Stamp Taxes, and the failure to furnish information and non-compliance with Art(s). 256, 257 and 257 bis.

Criminal Crimes and Penalties

As stated above, the TPC stipulates that some tax crimes shall be adjudicated by the criminal courts, and these shall be penalized by restricting of freedoms.

The first of these is the "Tax Evasion" stipulated under Art. 359 et seq. In tax evasion, taxpayers, liable persons, and those who are complicit in the act, engage in deceitful activities that result in the loss of tax revenue. These acts are listed in the same provision: To engage in accounting and financial fraud in books and records, distorting, hiding, destroying books and records; Forging documents and copies, and using forged documents and copies; and Unauthorized printing of documents and using such documents, each of which may incur a prison sentence of 18 months to 5 years. It is clearly stated that these acts shall be punishable with punishments restricting freedom, and "fault" is necessary for the commitment of these crimes. In other words, material and subjective elements of criminal law are taken into consideration in determining acts that constitute tax evasion in accordance with the TPC.

Another tax crime in a criminal sense is the "Violation of the Secrecy of Taxes." Pursuant to Art. 362 of the TPC, among persons who shall abide by the secrecy of taxes as listed under Art. 5 of TPC, and those who violate this provision, are punishable in accordance with Art. 239 of the Turkish Criminal Code ("TCC"). These persons are as follows: Public officers who conclude tax transactions and audits, the officials of tax courts, regional administrative courts and Council of State, members of the commissions formed in accordance with tax laws, as well as experts of tax transactions. These persons, as a result of the work they do, cannot declare or use for their own benefit, or for the benefit of third parties, the information they are privy to, pertaining to the identities, transactions and account statuses, works, businesses, wealth and professions of the taxpayers and persons in relation to taxpayers. This prohibition continues even though the said persons leave their work. As per Art. 239 of the TCC, a person who commits this crime shall be sentenced with imprisonment for one to three years, and with a monetary fine of up to five thousand days. A person who forces another to declare such information and documents by coercion and threat shall be punished with imprisonment for three to seven years.

The last paragraph of Art. 6 of the TPC regulates the crime of "Conducting Personal Work of Taxpayers." Accordingly, public officers who conclude tax transactions and audits, and the officials of tax courts, regional administrative courts and Council of State, shall be prohibited from conducting accounting, communications, and other personal work of taxpayers regarding the application of tax rules, even for free. Violation of this provision shall result in imprisonment for a period of 6 months to 2 years, as per Art. 257/1 of the TCC entitled "Professional Misconduct."

General Provisions Regarding Tax Crimes and Penalties

When considered from the perspective of "Complicity," as a general principle of criminal law, tax crimes and penalties, it is necessary to identify persons who commit acts of tax evasion as shall be punished as per the provisions of the TCC regarding complicity. Every person who jointly commits the act shall be liable as proprietor, and those people who influence these persons shall be punished with the same penalty. Provided that those persons who are complicit in tax evasion do not financially benefit from the crime, the punishment shall be reduced by half as per the provisions regarding secondary complicity.

In criminal law, "Repetition" means a person charged with committing a crime commits another crime in a specified time period. As per Art. 339 of the TPC, this applies also to tax crimes, and the penalties are increased by half if the loss of tax revenue is repeated within 5 years, and by one-quarter if non-compliance is repeated within 2 years.

The principle of "Unification" in criminal law means the commitment of more than one crime through one act, and is also applicable to tax crimes and penalties.


1. Prof. Dr. Mualla Öncel - Prof. Dr. Ahmet Kumrulu - Prof. Dr. Nami Çağan, Vergi Hukuku, Ankara 2015, p.209 and following.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.