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Experts argued about the responsibility of bloggers for underpayment of taxes

Experts argued about the responsibility of bloggers for underpayment of taxes

Experts called arguments for and against criminal prosecution of bloggers, crushing business

Bloggers, accused of tax evasion, did not commit crimes - we can only talk about abuse, said one of the lawyers at the round table at the business ombudsman. But other experts did not support him, presenting their arguments

Experts at a round table in Moscow discussed the topic, Is the artificial fragmentation of a business a tax crime?, which became relevant against the backdrop of a series of criminal cases, initiated on the fact of non-payment of taxes by bloggers. Broadcast of the round table on the topic "Blogs, taxes and business fragmentation", held 16 May Office of Business Ombudsman Boris Titov, listened to RBC correspondent.

Opinion of a lawyer in defense of bloggers

Breaking up a business is not a crime in itself., expressed the opinion of the head of the analytical service of Pepeliaev Group Vadim Zaripov. He clarified, that the main criteria, determining the artificial fragmentation of business, — the lack of business logic in such a structure and the lack of sufficient independence of the participants in the scheme in operating activities.

At the same time, in judicial practice at the level of district courts throughout Russia, an approach has developed, that the artificial fragmentation of business is a crime, noted the lawyer. He also referred to a letter from the Federal Tax Service (of FTS (Federal Tax Service)) from 2017 year with recommendations on the application of Art.. 54.1 tax code (“Limits for exercising the rights to calculate the tax base and (or) tax amounts, collection, insurance premiums"): it notes, that it is forbidden to reduce taxes by distorting information about the facts of economic activity. Business splitting schemes, aimed at unlawful application of special tax regimes, are typical examples of such distortion., comes from a letter.

Zaripov reminded, that the law establishes liability for tax evasion in two ways: failure to submit a declaration and submission of a declaration with knowingly false information. According to him, tax evasion in another way is not provided, which was confirmed by the Constitutional Court in 2003 year. “If we are talking about crushing, then we understand, that declarations were submitted for a single tax under a simplified taxation system”, Zaripov said. Thus, according to a lawyer, you can talk about, that declarations have been filed, information in them meets the requirements, which apply to the simplified taxation system, and in this sense they are reliable.

"You can speak, that the wrong declaration is presented, but the law does not provide for liability for evasion by providing the wrong declaration. And criminal law is not subject to broad interpretation.”, he remarked.

Zaripov believes, that in the case of the fragmentation of business by bloggers, this is not a crime, and about circumventing the law, which is one type of abuse. In the case of abuse, it is necessary to recover arrears and penalties from the taxpayer. "Not all cheating is a crime", he emphasized, adding, that tax evasion by bloggers in this way does not pose a public danger.

According to a lawyer, persecution of bloggers, what is happening now, is "campaigning". He expressed confidence, that the tax authorities have long known about the use of such schemes, but "we sat in ambush and accumulated arrears, when more comes".

The fight against business fragmentation has become such an important phenomenon of economic life, that it's time for her to prescribe special rules, said Boris Titov at the end of April, when accused of non-payment 918 mln rub. income taxes, received on the Internet, blogger Elena Blinovskaya was detained.

Arguments against applied schemes

Natalya Ryabova, head of the expert service of the business ombudsman's office, disagreed with Zaripov's arguments. In her opinion, if a businessman submits a declaration, understanding, that he transferred part of the money to an affiliated company, due to which he took advantage of the simplified tax regime, it is a false statement.

But to declare, that any division of business is artificial and is done in order to evade taxes, it is impossible - law enforcement agencies must carefully prove this, she stressed. There are cases, when the crushing took place, to introduce children into the family business as heads of individual firms, she gave an example.

Talk about the innocence of bloggers, crushing business, it is forbidden, the head of the expert center for criminal law policy and the execution of judicial acts of "Business Russia" is also confident, ambassador “business officer” Ekaterina Avdeeva. “There was direct tax evasion, creating obstacles to the investigation of criminal cases", she thinks.

Avdeeva explained, that bloggers were selling courses, payment for which was received in a single center, from which "was distributed among many individual entrepreneurs, who were on the simplified taxation system". “The so-called fictitious bloggers were created, who didn't even have special followers", she described the pattern.. Therefore, believes Avdeeva, the collection of evidence and the investigation required considerable time.

According to the representative of "Business Russia", in this case, it is impossible to talk about pressure on business. She also disagreed with the argument that, that the abuses of bloggers do not pose a public danger. Everything in this world is interconnected. If we are talking about the economy and the protection of entrepreneurs, then we must not forget, that paying taxes is of particular importance. Real entrepreneurs, who develop production, technologies, may not receive any subsidies, benefits [due to underpayment of taxes by other businessmen]», she explained.

Avdeeva is sure, that bloggers, which are currently prosecuted, could have avoided it, if they paid the arrears immediately. But “the behavior of bloggers was rather destructive, than positive", she remarked, because the, when they were charged, they ran towards the border".

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