Representatives of small real estate agencies in Yerevan claimed to be facing closure on Tuesday because of what they described as a sharp rise in taxes.
The higher taxes stem from government-drafted legal amendments relating to small and medium-sized businesses which entered into force on January 1. Earlier this month, they sparked street protests by owners of small dental clinics, leading Health Minister Derenik Dumanian to urge the government to reconsider the measure.
Representatives of three real estate agencies held a joint news conference to announce that they and dozens of other small realtors have sent letters to President Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian asking the government to change the law. They said it will otherwise drive many of them into bankruptcy or the informal sector of the economy.
In the words of Artem Pribylski of the AG Borsa agency, the new measure will force them to pay 80,000 drams ($200) in various monthly taxes for each of their employees, up from 15,000-20,000 drams which he said they paid until now.
“It’s very possible that only five or six large firms will remain in business,” claimed Ara Gojabashian, who runs the Argo Realty agency. “Many others are facing closure. If the law remains unchanged, many firms will close down or will end their operations on paper and operate informally.”
“If I have, say, five workers I could register only two of them and try to find contacts in the tax or other bodies so that we are not fined. We are going back to the 1990s,” he said.
The Armenian Ministry of Finance, which initiated the amendments, and the State Revenue Committee, which collects taxes, declined to comment on these complaints.