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Measures of state support for small- and medium-sized enterprises

Measures of state support for small- and medium-sized enterprises

LEGAL DIGEST, NEWS \ 30.03.2020

With a view to mitigating the financial consequences that have resulted from the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Russian Government and Russian Central Bank have implemented the following measures of state support for business. 

Tax audits have been cancelled

The Russian Federal Tax Service (the “Federal Tax Service”) has suspended the following control measures with respect to taxpayers, including small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), up to 1 May 2020:

  • field tax audits and the issuing of decisions to conduct tax audits
  • audits with respect to the use of online cash registers (cash register equipment)
  • audits of compliance with foreign currency legislation.

If a field tax audit was started earlier, it will also be suspended. As regards unscheduled audits with respect to the use of cash register equipment and with respect to foreign currency legislation, interaction with taxpayers will take place without any immediate contact (via telecommunication channels or a taxpayer’s personal account).

The measures undertaken do not apply to unscheduled audits for which the grounds are the following:

  • harm being caused to the life and health of people
  • the occurrence of natural and man-made emergencies
  • audits which will result in the issuing of permission documentation (licences, certificates, an accreditation, etc.)

Documents: the Russian Government’s Instruction dated 18 March 2020; the Federal Tax Service’s Order No. ED-7-2/18 dated 20 March 2020.

A deferral of rental payments for SMEs

A deferral of rental payments has been introduced for small- and medium-sized enterprises until 2021. This means that SMEs will be able to enter into supplemental agreements to their leases, reflecting the grace periods for rental payments in 2020. The deadline for such supplemental agreements will be three business days from the date an entrepreneur or a company applies to the landlord.

Public authorities and their subordinate institutions (landlords) should notify SMEs of the possibility of obtaining such a deferral.

The measures undertaken apply to the rental of state-owned property. The full list of such property is given on the website of the Russian Federal Agency for State Property Management (abbreviated in Russian as “Rosimuschestvo”)

Documents: The Russian Government’s Directive No. 670-r dated 19 March 2020.

A deferral of tax collections for SMEs

For taxpayers whose information is entered into the unified Register of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises before 1 May 2020 the following will be applied:

  • measures will be suspended with respect to the collection of outstanding taxes, insurance contributions and fines
  • measures will be set aside regarding decisions to suspend transactions on accounts when such transactions are aimed at debiting the above debts.

There is a possibility that such deferrals and instalments of payments will be also granted after 1 May, provided that the Russian President or the Russian Government issue the corresponding instructions.

For more detailed information about the above relaxation of the rules, please contact your local tax authority at the place where you are registered.

Document: Information of the Federal Tax Service dated 26 March 2020

Obtaining free force majeure certificates

Starting from 26 March 2020, you can obtain force-majeure certificates free of charge from the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (the “Chamber”) and its regional branches. The certificate enables you to have force majeure certified, where such force majeure prevents obligations from being discharged under the contracts concluded between Russian companies. The above measures have started to be applied to foreign trade contracts.

What documents should be submitted to obtain the certificate? 

– an application detailing the reasons and grounds for your contacting the Chamber;

– a copy of a contract together with annexes to it;

– copies of registration documents and documents of competent authorities evidencing the events claimed to be force majeure circumstances.

It is recommended that you reconfirm the list of documents and the procedure for having the certificate issued to you with the regional branch of the Chamber at the location of your company.

In connection with the coronavirus epidemic, force majeure circumstances will be measures undertaken in Russia to combat the spread of the pandemic that make it impossible for a company to perform a contract. To determine whether such circumstances are connected with the spread of the coronavirus, we recommend that you seek advice from the Chamber by using their specifically dedicated hotline.

Document: Information from the Chamber dated  24 March 2020, News from the Ministry of Economic Development dated 27 March 2020.

Release from administrative liability for foreign currency offences

If restrictive measures undertaken by foreign states and triggered by the spread of the coronavirus prevent your foreign counterparty from discharging its obligations under an international contract with a Russian company, this shows that the Russian company is not guilty of administrative offences under article 15.25 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences.

In this case, the Russian company can present any evidence of the lack of guilt in its actions, including evidence of it having undertaken all measures within its reasonable control to ensure compliance with Russian foreign currency legislation,

The question of whether a Russian company should have administrative liability imposed will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, considering all facts of the case (article 26.11 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences).

Document: Information from the Ministry of Finance

Extension of the stay of foreign employees

Starting from 19 March 2020, foreign nationals and stateless persons may extend the duration of their temporary stay in Russia. These measures are connected with the closure of borders in Russia for the period from 18 March until 1 May 2020. If a document that has been issued has expired, foreign nationals who reside in Russia based on a temporary residence permit or on permanent residency may have the period of their stay extended. In addition, authorities will resume accepting applications for work permits for foreign nationals who are staying in Russia.Ф в

To do so, such persons will need to file an application (for which there is no prescribed form) with the nearest regional office of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs to the place of their actual residence. Please, take note that authorities can suspend the personal reception of citizens, therefore we recommend to send your applications in writing by mail, in electronic form through the service “Accepting of applications of citizens and organizations” on the official website of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs or to leave applications in the territorial mailbox body of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.

Document: Information from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs dated 19 March 2020

The list of measures undertaken is not a closed list. According to the Russian President’s address dated 25 March 2020, the state is planning on extending the list of measures aimed at supporting business, including SMEs.

Acsour’s team is closely monitoring the changes in the legislation and is responding to them in real-time mode. 

Acsour