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Bill Proposes Sweeping New Powers For The Russian Tax Ministry

by Tatiana Smolenska, Tax-News.com, Moscow

13 November 2003


A bill has been drafted that will give the Russian Tax Ministry similar powers to those enjoyed only by the Interior Ministry.

According to a report in the Moscow Times, Tax Minister Gennady Bukayev said in the latest issue of the ministry’s internal publication, the Russian Tax Courier, that he would like to see the ministry have the ability to “inventory taxpayers' property, interrogate witnesses [and] seize documents and objects." He also wants to see a two year extension to the length of time official investigations can last, currently three years.

Unsurprisingly, the proposals have sent a chill down many a spine, not least those of Russia’s business community. "We haven't read the bill yet, but if the Economic Development and Trade Ministry is concerned, we're concerned," said Andrew Somers, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, referring to the ministry’s comment that the move would give the tax authorities at both central and local level “unprecedented powers”.

"It looks like an effort to significantly reduce the role of the courts in this process, which we would hate to see because we've been encouraged by the neutrality of the courts in tax disputes in recent years," Somers added, according to the Moscow Times.


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