By Armen Zakarian
Senior officials from the ministry for state revenues faced on Thursday hundreds of angry business executives complaining about recent changes in Armenia’s tax legislation.
Representatives of several hundred private firms operating in one of Yerevan’s districts charged that the tax authorities have failed to properly explain and clarify changes in over a dozen laws regulating taxation.
The government pushed the legislative package through the parliament on December 14 in the hope of improving its tax collection record this year. Deputy Minister for State Revenues Armen Alaverdian said the amendments will “clarify and simplify tax-related rights and obligations of business entities.”
But corporate taxpayers from the city’s Ajapnyak district that gathered for a meeting with ministry officials complained that they have difficulty understanding the new rules and that Armenia’s tax system remains too complicated. They also protested against what they believe are frequent changes in the tax laws.
“They enact changes before we manage to make sense of previous ones,” said one company accountant.
The tax officials struggled to soothe the angry taxpayers during the meeting which at one point degenerated into a noisy row.
The legislative package approved by the National Assembly provides, in particular, for heavier fines on businesses underreporting their profits or posting false financial losses. It also gives the tax authorities more freedom to inspect businesses and enforce taxes.
Armenia’s largest business association, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, has strongly criticized the changes. Its chairman, Arsen Ghazarian, has warned that the tax collection agency, widely accused of corruption, will now have more levers to harass and extort bribes from companies.