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The Russian Criminal Code is going to introduce a separate article for major fraud with VAT

The Russian Criminal Code is going to introduce a separate article for major fraud with VAT

MIA, investigative committee (SC) and the Federal Tax Service (of FTS (Federal Tax Service)) prepare a separate article of the Criminal Code for the organizers of large schemes to avoid VAT. This was reported by representatives of the departments 4 August at a meeting of the expert center of "Business Russia" on criminal law policy and enforcement of judicial acts, RTVI correspondent reports. The bill is planned to be submitted to the autumn session of the State Duma. The need for such measures is caused by a sharp increase in tax fraud.: So, in 2021 FTS revealed illegal tax deductions for 1 trillion rubles.

"Lending at the expense of the budget"
"This issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible.. We are seeing a flurry of materials on signs of illegal VAT refunds.”, Anatoly Pankratiev, Deputy Head of the Department of the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, emphasized.

Entrepreneurs are often pushed to avoid VAT by unscrupulous business consultants, consider in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to Pankratiev, they present VAT refunds as "loans". "You now repay, then you will return, there will be nothing for it", - explained the representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In messengers, and, in particular, in a telegram, openly advertised "service" on "paper VAT", he added.

In 2021 FSB, The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Tax Service searched the offices of tax consultants in Samara, Ulyanovsk regions and in Tatarstan on suspicion of fraud with VAT. The organizers of one of the largest VAT avoidance platforms, based on the Elrem Service company, were former and current employees of the tax authorities and the security forces of Togliatti. Among the "clients" were contractors of state corporations and large companies.

VAT scammers buy statutory documents and electronic signature keys of legal entities with fake founders and on their behalf submit false reports to the tax authorities in the interests of entrepreneurial clients, which allows those to reimburse tax from the budget. For such services, scheme organizers are remunerated in 2-3% from the amount of tax deductions. According to the FTS, in 2021 year revealed illegal tax deductions in the amount of 1 trillion rubles.

Fraud with VAT as a separate crime
The current norms of the Criminal Code do not allow to fully punish the organizers of such schemes.. A separate criminal unit is needed, solidarity with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, SK and FTS. Agencies with the involvement of the business community and experts are looking for the best option for amendments to the Criminal Code. "Hope, that the bill will be introduced in the autumn session", - said Pankratiev.

"We have come to understand, what is this, most likely, a separate type of illegal business activity by analogy with illegal banking activity. Therefore, the idea was born to introduce a new article in the Criminal Code, which would criminalize this type of criminal activity”, - explained the head of the department of procedural control over the investigation of tax crimes of the IC Sergey Trokhov.

The issue has not yet been resolved, how to qualify the activities of the organizers of "platforms" for avoiding VAT, noted the representative of the UK: "One side, the activities of the organizers should be regarded as complicity in tax evasion. But proving intent is often difficult., because the sites operate on a professional basis, and not always their services are connected precisely with tax evasion”.

The main thing, formulate a new composition in the Criminal Code in this way, to protect conscientious taxpayers as much as possible from the threat of unreasonable persecution, stressed the head of the analytical service of Pepeliaev Group Vadim Zaripov.

Activities of many companies, for example, construction and export companies, associated with the recovery of large amounts of VAT, which puts them in a particularly vulnerable position in terms of criminal prosecution, noted the partner and the head of tax practice of MEF Alexander Erasov: “VAT is becoming a toxic tax, and those, who refund VAT are at increased risk”.

The FTS also advocates a "watershed" between cases, when the company did not pay extra VAT, and crimes, when all activities are aimed only at stealing VAT, said the head of the legal department of the Federal Tax Service Vitaly Zvankov.

According to Zaripov, it would be more correct to qualify VAT fraud not as “fraud”, and to provide for a separate composition in the "family" of tax items - Art.. 199.5 (“Inclusion in the declaration of knowingly false information, resulting in the refund of VAT or excise duty on a large or especially large scale”).

The representative of the SC did not agree, that fraud with VAT should be in a number of tax compositions. “Failure to pay taxes and embezzlement by fraud are two completely different crimes., - Trokhov emphasized. “Illegal VAT refund is still closer to fraud”.

SC also disagreed with the proposal, that the investigation of VAT fraud should only begin with the approval of the tax authorities. Special procedure applies to tax crimes (Art. 198 and 199 CC) – since March, investigators have the right to initiate such cases only based on the results of tax audits. "It's all about fraud., it is impossible to limit the response to these actions and submit the issue only for consideration by the tax authorities. They may not always see it., because the actions are fraudulent", Trokhov explained..

At the same time, the UK supported the proposal to exempt violators from criminal liability., if they pay the damage. “It should be possible to exempt from criminal liability in connection with compensation for damages. How much is debatable, — said Trokhov.

A separate composition of the Criminal Code should provide for reasonable amounts of damage, emphasized Zaripov. "Large size - from 1 mln rub. or at least 10% from the amount of taxes, paid for the previous five calendar years. Extra large - not less than 20% from the amount of taxes for the previous 5 years", - gave an example of acceptable limits Zaripov. Link to tax burden, According to him, give entrepreneurs an understanding, that “the more you pay to the budget, the more immunity (from the threat of a criminal case)».

Previously, select a separate composition of the article 159.7 ("Tax Fraud") proposed by State Duma deputies Igor Igoshin ("United Russia") and Vladimir Sipyagin (LDPR). The bill provided for the termination of a criminal case in the event of a triple repayment of damages and payment of a fine.. The amendments were rejected at the preliminary consideration of the State Duma.

 

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