The first initiatives of the authorities after the rebooting do not meet the expectations of Ukrainians. They voted, among other things, for improving material welfare, increasing social guarantees and restoring equitable distribution of incomes of the national economy.
Instead, an increase in fiscal pressure is being prepared for them. Thus, the previous model is preserved - when they load the one who already drags the bulk of the main tax liabilities.
But pulling this burden is getting harder. It is clear that the resources of the population are not unlimited: many are already trying to go abroad, tired of waiting for the promised changes for the better. Well, the adoption of new laws will only strengthen emigration from Ukraine.
The rich cry too
In fairness it must be said that: an increase in the tax burden will affect not only ordinary people, but also the oligarchs. Earlier, OstroV told about the upcoming changes to the Tax Code.
They provide for a significant increase in rents for the extraction of iron ore and an increase in the eco-tax.
Almost all large enterprises pay eco-taxes, billionaires Rinat Akhmetov and Vadym Novynskyi, as well as Kostyantyn Zhevago will fork out on the iron ore rent.
On the one hand, it certainly will not hurt them. On the other hand, a selective approach to this issue draws attention.
If after 2013 (when R. Akhmetov and V. Novynskyi lost their political influence), the rent for the iron ore industry grew 5 times, it remained at the same level for manganese ore.
Now nobody is going to raise it again. After all, the Marhanets and Ordzhonikidze mining and processing enterprises that extract manganese ore are controlled by the Privat group of Ihor Kolomoyskyi.
It is unlikely that such an imbalance can be considered a fair approach to taxation.
To be true, Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Dmytro Dubilet voiced yet another initiative. According to him, the CMU will send to the Verkhovna Rada bills on the resumption of double taxation with Cyprus, Malaysia and the UK.
It was canceled under V.Yanukovych and allowed the oligarchs to legally pay taxes not in Ukraine, but in these offshore jurisdictions.
At the same time, the tax rate on operations with offshore capital is planned to be increased from 2% to 5%.
This initiative can only be welcomed – unless, of course, it is really accepted and does not "drown" within the walls of the Rada, as it previously happened with the so-called "wealth tax".
If the tax on operations with offshore companies starts to be levied not after a few years, but here and now, without a transition period. However, the positive ends here.
Much ado about very little
On September 10, the Verkhovna Rada adopted in the first reading bills No.1053-1 and No.1073, the purpose of which is unshadowing of payments in the sphere of services and trade.
The bills provide for the obligation of all entrepreneurs (except group I of the single tax) to use the payment transactions recorders (PTRs).
Now it can be not only cash registers, but also any other electronic devices – for example, a tablet or mobile phone, on which the corresponding application is installed.
If PTRs were earlier provided only for those with an annual income exceeding UAH 1 million, now they should be available at all pharmacies, online stores, hotels, cafes, hairdressers, etc.
The question of how this will affect the final cost of goods and services for consumers remains open.
It is no secret that the ordinary payer of almost all taxes is ordinary citizens-individuals, since they are consumers of goods and services.
For example, cigarette and alcohol producers transfer excise taxes to the budget. But they lay the value of payments in the cost of production.
Therefore, the price tag in cafes, hairdressers, hotels, etc. should increase by the amount of tax liabilities as a result of the appearance of PTRs.
On the other hand, if we compare the prices of products in the markets and large retail chains, now they are not much different in most commodity items.
Moreover, it is much cheaper to make purchases in retail chains. At the same time, there are cash registers in supermarkets, but not in markets.
But the question arises again: is it necessary to begin with economy unshadowing, when numerous schemes continue to work successfully in the country that allow large businesses not to pay taxes?
For comparison: large companies and enterprises paid UAH 296 billion in 2018. This is 57% of all revenues to the state budget. UAH 229.9 billion were received from the tax on incomes of individuals.
Based on this, it would be logical to first deal with confusing financial flows, including of large state-owned companies, from which money goes to no one knows where – like water through a sieve.
According to recent reports, representatives of the Servant of the People agreed to postpone the entry into force of the scandalous changes as a compromise: they will begin to operate not from 2020, but from 2021.
Punishment of the uninvolved
Instead of dealing with multimillion-dollar "schemes", the authorities habitually took care of the incomes and expenses of ordinary citizens. In order to put them under total control, it is proposed to adopt bill No.1183.
This is the most scandalous and controversial initiative and it, unlike the previous ones (introduced by the ruling Servant of the People party), was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada on behalf of the opposition European Solidarity – which has nothing to lose in the ratings.
So far, this bill has not yet been put to a vote in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada. It provides for a one-time declaration of all assets available to citizens (garage, summer house, apartment, house, land plot, car, etc.).
In the future, it is proposed to entrust the tax service with investigating all purchases of Ukrainians in the amount of over UAH 150 thousand. If the amount of official income does not correspond to such an acquisition, a tax is charged to the citizen plus a big fine.
Servant of the People support the bill, claiming that it is aimed at combating the payment of envelope salaries. At the same time, deputies are well aware that the decision to pay in black cash or in white is not made by the employee himself, but by his employer. The employee does not have the ability to influence this decision at all.
Previous Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman also declared a "war" against envelope salaries, and the Verkhovna Rada seriously increased fines for employers for illegal employment at the suggestion of the government.
But the situation has not changed for the better since then. The reason is not just in total corruption of the authorities – the same tax office and state inspectorate of labour.
In fact, everything is much simpler. High taxes in any case stimulate going into the "shadow", low taxes contribute to the legalization of incomes of both business and individual citizens.
This is clearly seen on the example of owners of cars with European number plates. The situation when it is required to pay taxes and fees in excess of the cost of this car when importing a used car into Ukraine has led to the fact that they stopped paying at all – taking advantage of the fact that customs payments are not charged for transit and temporary entry of cars.
So, at least 1 million cars with European number plates, mainly Polish and Lithuanian, appeared in the country. Then the government declared war against owners of cars with European number plates – having prescribed huge fines for them.
But that did not work. Only when during the temporary armistice (concluded after the mass protests of car owners with European number plates) the excise taxes on the import of cars with European number plates were reduced – their legalization increased.
During the period of the preferential tariff, the state budget received UAH 13.6 billion from customs clearance of 218 thousand cars with European number plates, and UAH 7.7 billion for 107.6 thousand cars – from February 23 to August 18 this year (when the benefits expired).
That is, as soon as the amount of payments increased again, they began to pay less. Therefore, the authorities had to postpone the entry into force of increased fines for driving cars with European number plates.
They were supposed to start operating on August 24, now they have been postponed until January 1, 2020. The corresponding bill was passed by the Verkhovna Rada at the proposal of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Business responds to excessive taxes exactly this way. The load of 42% on the salary fund for the employer is just unbearable.
That is precisely why all previous attempts to stop envelope payments failed. The same situation will continue to develop. Ordinary citizens will be fined and levied additional fees on.
First of all, it will affect migrant workers. They are forced to work abroad only because the president, parliament and Cabinet of Ministers are not able to create jobs in their own country with decent wages for citizens.
Nevertheless, the authorities are preparing to declare the rights to their incomes – although virtually, they do not have such rights at all.
Doings and sayings
Unfortunately, public statements and promises of representatives of the authorities under V.Zelensky are at variance with particular actions exactly the same way as of his predecessors.
"We want to spend every penny of the taxpayer as efficiently as possible. The taxes need to be gradually reduced, but they should be made equal for everyone, because it is wrong when taxes are high, but a small part pays them. We will change this", - Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk stated on September 15, presenting the 2020 draft state budget for the media.
Taxes "equal for all" were discussed above using an example of the approach to levy rent for the extraction of iron and manganese ore. The thesis about the need for a gradual reduction in taxes turns out to be exactly the same fake.
The draft state budget prepared by the Cabinet of Ministers of O. Honcharuk does not reduce the tax burden for residents-individuals, and it increases even more for individual business representatives.
In addition, head of the president's office Andriy Bohdan made it clear that ordinary taxpayers should not even hope for a symbolic reduction in fees.
He answered quiet vaguely to the question of canceling the so-called "military fee" in the amount of 1.5% of the income of individuals.
"This is a budget issue. If the economy grows. The economy has already begun to grow. You know that GDP for the second quarter is 4.7% for the first time in Ukraine", – A. Bohdan said.
By the way, the money from the "military fee" does not go to a special trust fund, but to the common state budget stock. Therefore, no one can answer where they are actually spent – on funding the army, or on the purchase of luxury cars for corrupt officials.
So, the condition for the abolition of "military fee" was called economic growth. At the same time, the head of the presidential office admitted that it is growing. But not a word about when the Ukrainians will cease to pay an additional 1.5% to the budget.
The decline would essentially be symbolic – but the new team is not ready to go even for it.
Instead, representatives of Servant of the People introduced a bill to the Verkhovna Rada to strengthen inspections of citizens who applied to district social security departments for a subsidy to pay utility bills.
The stated goal is to ensure that only those who really need it receive assistance from the state. But the previous authorities set the same goals.
During the premiership of V.Groysman, verification (examination of the legality of the grounds for receiving) of subsidies was carried out independently by two departments at once: the Ministry of Social Policy and the Ministry of Finance.
Although previous head of the Ministry of Social Policy Andriy Reva enjoyed telling reporters about the owners of "Mercedes", who received utility subsidies, in reality, such cases were isolated.
However, there was a provision already in 2016, in accordance with which a family that made a one-time purchase worth more than UAH 50 thousand could not qualify for subsidies.
60.9 thousand fictitious pensioners were identified in the same 2016, 60. Given that 11.5 million people receive pensions in total in Ukraine, this is not very much: 0.53% of the total amount.
That is, large-scale abuses with the appointment and use of state aid have not been identified. This is not surprising: shortly before the parliamentary election, the same V.Groysman admitted that housing and public utilities' tariffs in Ukraine are unreasonably high and unbearable for the majority of the population. That is why there is no reason to doubt the legality of the allocation of utility bills in the vast majority of cases. Nevertheless, such a bill appeared within the walls of the Rada.
The fact is that the draft state budget for 2020, submitted by the government of O.Honcharuk, provides for a big reduction in the payment of subsidies – up to UAH 47.629 billion compared with UAH 55 billion this year.
It follows that the goal of the initiative is to cut off as many recipients as possible from state aid, under any pretext. Even if they really cannot pay by themselves – the pretexts should be created, on the basis of which subsidies can be denied.
Vitaliy Krymov, OstroV