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15 Sep 2017

Lukashenko endorses draft decree on tax consulting

MINSK, 15 September (BelTA) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko supported the idea to set up the institute of tax consultants during a working meeting with Taxes and Duties Minister Sergei Nalivaiko, BelTA has learned.

The draft decree on tax consulting submitted for the consideration of the president aims to introduce the professional institute of intermediaries between business and tax authorities. This draft document is part of a package of the legislative acts which are prepared as part of the effort to develop entrepreneurship and boost business activity of population.

At the beginning of the meeting Alexander Lukashenko expressed some wariness over the draft legal regulatory act and asked to examine carefully the subject of corruption risks. “We have tax inspectorates that give some advice, in one way or another. We need to make sure we do not legalize paid activities of your subordinates,” the president noted.

“Maybe I did not get deeply into the draft, but I am not easy with this document. I am wondering whether we will be able to get the positive effect we aim for? It is quite likely that the document may bring negative effect. Therefore I would like you to give me a detailed report on this matter,” the President added.

After the meeting Sergei Nalivaiko informed that the president endorsed the document after receiving further clarification on a number of aspects that evoked doubts.

The minister noted that the innovation would not entail additional budget spending. At the initial stage methodological support of tax consultants will be administered by the Tax and Duties Ministry and then by the Chamber of Tax Consultants. "It is not necessary to be an economist to become a tax consultant. A man could be a lawyer or an accountant. We do not need a new major in universities. But with tax consultants we will have an additional channel of professional mediation along with lawyers, auditors and accountants," Sergei Nalivaiko said.

The Chamber of Tax Consultants will certify these specialists, arrange refresher courses and will communicate with the tax authorities.

The minister noted that when developing the draft decree specialists were drawing on the experience of Germany. International experts were involved as well. “Germany adopted the law on tax consulting in 1961. Today about 90,000 individuals and more than 7,500 legal entities operate as tax consultants. In our opinion, this will help streamline cooperation between economic entities and tax bodies, improve the quality of the taxation system. The German taxation system is not easier than ours, but it is not unpopular with Germans. This is because economic entities do not have to interact with the tax service. This is the work for tax consultants. I think we should move in this direction as well,” said Sergei Nalivaiko.

When asked whether tax consultants could help their clients evade taxes, Sergei Nalivaiko said: “Today nothing hampers an auditor or a lawyer to do the same. If this is within the law, minimization of tax payments is not illegal. It is called tax planning. Violation of laws is a different matter. This document will not expand opportunities to minimize the payments.”

The minister also stressed that in line with the draft decree tax consultants will bear full material responsibility for the quality of their activity, while any possible risks will be subject to compulsory insurance. “This is one of the main aspects that will differ a tax consultant from auditors and lawyers who provide services to economic entities today. A tax consultant will pay from his pocket for any mistake he commits. The draft decree envisages compulsory liability insurance,” Sergei Nalivaiko said.

The services of tax consultants will be an absolutely voluntary decision for entrepreneurs and organizations.

The institute of tax consultants has been successfully functioning in many European countries such as Austria, Germany, Poland, France, the Czech Republic and others. It helps business avoid mistakes and taxation violations, reduce corruption risks in the taxation.

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