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“KP” investigation: Who among us is being secretly monitored by the tax authorities?

Date: September 22, 2023 Time: 20:06:35

The idea that “the tax office watches our every move” is more of a myth or scare

Photo: Roman IGNATIEV


“For technical reasons, payment by bank card is not available.” Anyone who has been to Sochi knows that these types of announcements are almost the norm. It is as if all functioning banking terminals remain in Moscow. And in the south, because of the heat, they broke. Then they offer to pay… using the kebab shop owner’s phone number.

The business motivation is quite clear. First of all, you don’t need to pay the bank that accepts payments. And he usually keeps around 2% of the amount. Secondly, the company saves on insurance premiums (often employees continue to be paid in envelopes). But the most important thing is that in this case you will not have to pay taxes!

It is true that recent high-profile events have forced many business owners to reflect on their behavior. This year, criminal cases were opened against the “queens” of the Russian blogosphere, Elena Blinovskaya and Valeria Chekalina, for non-payment of taxes worth hundreds of millions of rubles.

– Tax scandals involving Blinovskaya, “Lerchek” and other popular bloggers made the market lively. These largely indicative processes forced many of those who had worked in vain to think about coming out of the shadows, says Igor Znak, general director of the Qugo freelance marketplace.

The fashion bloggers ended up getting away with a moderate scare, house arrest and heavy fines. However, not only them, but all of us understood it: you can no longer play with the tax authorities. And the question immediately arose: who are the tax authorities investigating for now?


Let’s start with the good news. The tax office does not control each of us. Even with all the automated systems and artificial intelligence, this would be quite difficult to achieve. Inspectors would simply be caught in an avalanche of small payments and transfers.

– The idea that “the tax office watches our every move” is more of a myth or a scare. The tax authorities, of course, control and monitor the situation of taxes paid by individuals, but this control is not total. At least for now, says Arkady Bryzgalin, head of the Tax and Financial Law group of companies.

As lawyers explain, the Federal Tax Service will pay attention to an individual only in two cases.

1. If the bank provides information about suspicious transactions. They track transfers of large sums of money, starting from a million rubles. Especially if they are withdrawn almost immediately after being credited to the account (for more details, see “By the way”). This may indicate money laundering or fraud. For example, if phone scammers scammed another victim and persuaded them to send savings to someone else’s supposedly “safe” account.

2. The tax agency itself can initiate an audit. For example, if the Federal Tax Service suspects that a particular person is hiding his income and does not want to share it with the state. It could be a civil servant who lives beyond his means or a businessman who receives income from personal bank cards.

The tax office does not control each of us, because doing so would be quite difficult.

Photo: Ekaterina MARTINOVICH


At the same time, as a rule, tax officials intentionally pursue only the big fish. Where efforts to gather evidence and apprehend the suspect will definitely bear fruit.

– There are no exact statistics on this topic, but on-site tax inspections of natural persons are rare. No more than a hundred a year (for the entire country – Ed.). Basically, those who have assets abroad and violate exchange control laws are under scrutiny. The work is carried out mainly with people whose income is measured in hundreds of millions of rubles, explains Arkady Bryzgalin.

The tax office knows what our income is and what property we own. And also how much money is in accounts and deposits at various banks (banks must provide this information to the Federal Tax Service so that the agency can collect a new tax on deposits). Therefore, those with low official salaries, but at the same time with high expenses, began to attract the attention of the tax authorities. For example, large purchases in the form of apartments and expensive cars.

For example, a couple of years ago a resident of the Kirov region received a letter of happiness. At the Treasury, they were asked to explain why a person with a salary of 50,000 rubles a month bought a Mercedes for 6 million. These cases do not usually appear in the press, but there are many.

Tax authorities send “chain letters” to everyone who finds such discrepancies. And they already have to prove where they got their expensive properties with modest incomes. If you can’t prove it, you’ll have to pay taxes (how it’s calculated; see “How much you’ll have to pay”).

– A lot of people’s income is in the gray area. Calculating this amount is even problematic, but it is clear that it amounts to trillions of rubles a year. Tax officials are eager to tax this income, but there are two problems. First of all, all these trillions are “spread out” among tens of millions of people. So, on average, the amount per payer is relatively small and not everyone can be verified. There are no such resources. Secondly, if a person receives income without going through the bank, it is almost impossible to trace it. Therefore, to become an object of attention, it is necessary that the income is significant and visible, explains Nikolai Vizer, lawyer and director of TaxPower.


If we are talking about ordinary citizens who do not manage tens and hundreds of millions, then the easiest way is to find out who owns real estate. Here, tax officials use the services of “loving” neighbors and local police officers. But not only.

– In addition to bloggers, attention is often also paid to apartment owners. They not only place ads on popular electronic platforms, but also regularly receive money on the card. From time to time, tax officials even conduct raids against such people. There are such cases, but since they concern non-public people, they rarely reach the press, says Nikolai Vizer.

Most often, those who own several apartments attract the attention of the Federal Tax Service. It is logical that it is unlikely that a person will live alternately in each of them. This means that there is a high probability that you will rent out some part of the property.

The same goes for inspections by professional resellers – those who do not want to pay taxes when reselling an apartment. The standard scheme of understating value in a purchase and sale agreement works less and less frequently.

– The basis for verifying a tax transaction is the suspiciously low value of the property. The price of an object below 70% of the cadastral value becomes a signal for the Federal Tax Service, explains Rigina Gordeeva, managing partner of the premium real estate agency Etagi Prime.

According to the expert, if there are suspicions, the tax authorities will force the bank to show all documents related to the transaction. As a rule, when applying for a mortgage with an undervaluation, the seller and the buyer conclude an additional agreement, according to which the remaining money is transferred. This document also remains in the bank. And it serves as proof for the tax authorities that the seller deliberately underestimated the price. In this case, he will have to pay not only additional tax, but also (this is discussed in detail in the paragraph “Get to know”) a fine of 40% of the accrued amount.


How to be suspicious

For obvious reasons, the Federal Tax Service does not reveal specific parameters of operations that raise suspicions among tax authorities. But there are some guidelines. The Central Bank has issued guidelines with which banks can establish their own control service. Thus, according to the Central Bank, the following activity is considered suspicious:

– Large receipts on the account (from a million rubles). And at the same time, there are no “traditional” transactions on this account. For example, card payments in offline or online stores.

– Money enters and leaves your account quickly. And at the same time, on average, at the end of each day, less than 10% of what entered in a week remains in the account;

– If more than 30 transactions are made by 10 or more people during the day. And so on for several days in a row.

In other words, if you went to a restaurant with a large group, paid with your card there to receive a refund, and then started receiving transfers from friends by phone number, you should not be afraid. It is unlikely that the tax authorities will be interested in this domestic activity. But if you sell something and every day you receive different amounts from strangers, then the Federal Tax Service can conduct an audit. It is true that the tax authorities cannot simply take your account statement and demand personal income tax from all card receipts. To collect additional taxes, they must perform an audit and show that they received income.


Become self-employed and don’t worry

According to experts interviewed by KP, the easiest way to pay minimal taxes and not have problems with the law is to be self-employed. They pay 4% of what they earn (when working with individuals) or 6% (when working with legal entities). Yes, there is an income limit. It should not exceed 2.4 million rubles per year. But for most small business owners and those who rent apartments, this limit will be sufficient.

In addition, declaring and paying taxes there is very simple. You only need to download the mobile application “My Tax”. Register there through government services. And link your bank card. Then the taxes will be canceled automatically. According to the Federal Tax Service, there are currently more than 8 million self-employed workers in Russia. Its income in August this year amounted to 118 billion rubles, and the amount of taxes was 5.5 billion.


How much will you have to pay?

If the tax authorities suspect that you have hidden income from the State, this is what they will do.

– First, they will send a letter demanding to explain where the money comes from and pay the best. The calculation here is that the “client” will get scared and run to the Federal Tax Service, losing sneakers and banknotes. Or he will prove that he earned everything legally.

– If the “suspect” does not fall into the trap, the tax authorities sue. They make inquiries in banks, collect evidence of illegal income. Its objective is to demonstrate the delta, that is, the difference between your income and expenses, which is not confirmed by official income.

– This delta is then multiplied by 13%. For example, they will prove that you illegally received 10 million rubles over the past three years. 1.3 million will have to be paid.

– In addition, they will be forced to pay a fine which, according to the law, is 40% of the hidden amount. In our example, this is 520 thousand rubles.

Criminal liability, that is, not only an additional tax and a fine, but also a prison sentence, threatens non-payment of taxes…

… on a large scale (from 2.7 million rubles in three years): up to one year in prison

…on an especially large scale (13.5 million rubles in three years): up to three years in prison

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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