«Business is gonna need some time to recover.»
Support measures for companies affected by the Coronavirus epidemic and related quarantine measures include, inter alia, tax relief, a moratorium on audits, and bankruptcy proceedings. What kind of easing works in reality, and what business should be ready for despite the quarantine, "Expert" was told by Mikhail Begunov, attorney, managing partner of the law firm Tax Compliance.
— How does it work and what is a moratorium on bankruptcy? Will it really help the business?
— The introduction of a moratorium on bankruptcy in April means that the filing of bankruptcy cases will be suspended. That is, creditor applications from organizations that are on the list of industries affected by the pandemic will not be considered yet. They will not consider bankruptcy suits of systemically important and strategic enterprises either. The suspension will last six months. And here it should be noted that the Federal Tax Service, even before the resolution is issued, has not made a decision on bankruptcy since March 16, actually starting to apply measures in advance.
The measure is likely to be effective for organizations that are on the verge of bankruptcy: it will give them some more time to restore their solvency. On the other hand, the courts will face an additional burden - the proceedings in these cases. And I foresee that there will be a lot of difficult moments with the court proceedings.
— Field tax audits are suspended until early June. Does this mean that the whole tax control is actually banned?
— Until May 31, 2020, inclusively, field tax audits, previously appointed, and appointment of new ones were suspended. Additional tax control measures were also rescheduled. What does it mean in reality for business? Of course, all audits are suspended, but the tax authority is not deprived of the opportunity to issue an act and send it via electronic means, if the audit is conducted to the end. Or to hand over in the same way the decision, if all the additional measures have already been completed. In this case, the deadlines for appeal will be considered not from the date of receipt, but June 1, 2020.
I emphasize: in this case the suspension does not mean that the tax office does not work! Measures related to the claim of documents, analytical work, pre-check-ups and desk audits continue.
— What's the status of deferred tax payments?
— With regard to payment deferrals and the extension of reporting deadlines, the Government has provided for a broad package of rules that include both postponement of payment and extension of the reporting period. Tax deferrals have also been provided for affected industries. It is important, however, that in the context of the crisis, the obligation to pay is not relieved from the VAT payers, as the deadlines for payment have not been postponed. However, if the company is not yet doing business and the tax payment term has come up, then for the SME segment the terms have still been postponed, so now there will be no need to pay. The installment period is again six months, and if we leave the quarantine earlier, the organizations will already have the opportunity to work and not pay taxes for some time.
— How does the payment of insurance premiums by small and medium-sized businesses work now?
— According to the government's resolution, the terms of payment of insurance premiums for the first quarter of 2020 have been postponed: from April 15 to October 15. The same applies to the first half of 2020. Therefore, companies have some time to maneuver.
— How can a subject of small and medium business get this transfer?
— Automatically. It is enough for a small and medium entrepreneur to score his TIN on the website of the Federal Tax Service to check whether he belongs to the affected industries and is entitled to this deferment, or to enter his OKVED codes and find out whether he is on the list of affected industries.
— What can you recommend to the business? How do you stay afloat and minimize losses during this period?
— First of all, to reduce costs, to look at all your operations and expenses. Some of them can be removed in the conditions of what is happening. Talk to the employees and somehow temporarily reduce the wage fund. All those who can be transferred to remote work. If it is possible to agree with contractors on partial fulfillment of obligations, it will also help to stay afloat. However, it is likely that the business owners have already taken these steps. If now there is no significant support from the state, we will still face a wave of bankruptcies and ruins at the end of the deferral period. All this can be avoided if we get out of this crisis as soon as possible, and the terms of preferences and deferrals will be extended for a longer time. We actually need some kind of transition period during which organizations can "come to their senses" and recover, so that they do not try to ask for amounts that they simply have nowhere to go.
— How long does it take to extend the deadline?
— As for the suspension of the tax authorities, the term can be considered reasonable, provided that we pass the peak of the epidemic, but if we talk about the timing of payment of taxes, insurance premiums and other payments to enterprises of the affected industries, then at least three or four months after the end of the crisis will be needed to try to get on the working rails and further give a delay for a longer period, if necessary.
— Business now often complains that everything works on paper, and some landlords, including state (FSUE and the like) continue to demand timely payment of rent. What to do in this case?
— Of course, to begin with, it is necessary to follow the path of negotiations and to demand payment of rent for the current month to prepare a letter justifying its delay and referring to the government decree. If the landlord will still demand payment, it is necessary to apply directly to the higher authority, which established this FSUE or another entity, with a statement of illegal actions or omissions in respect of the failure to comply with government regulations.
For those who have problems with private landlords, it makes sense to try to negotiate a postponement of rent payments to later periods. In fact, offer to pay in installments. I think many people will agree to this because it is an opportunity to keep the tenant: in the post-crisis period, everyone will need money as much as they do now. In addition, for those landlords who will cut their rent by half, the government will offer a tax break on their commercial premises.
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