The bill criticized by opposition lawmakers stipulates that all adult Armenians will have to submit income declarations starting from 2026. Some categories of the population, notably civil servants, will have to do so in 2024.
The process is due to be carried out electronically, with tax authorities pre-filling individual declaration forms and sending them to citizens for verification, confirmation and, if necessary, correction.
Financial disclosure has until now been mandatory in Armenia only for senior state officials and members of their families. The government bill will essentially extend this system to all citizens, including those who work abroad on a seasonal basis.
Government officials say that this will further complicate tax evasion and make it easier for the Armenian authorities to identify people who are really in need of poverty benefits and other government aid.
Opposition parliamentarians have voiced serious misgivings about the measure. Artur Khachatrian, a former government minister affiliated with the opposition Hayastan alliance, said he is worried that the government could use income declarations to tax Armenian migrant workers or impose additional duties on farmers. Government officials and pro-government deputies flatly denied that.
“Through this initiative we are not going to turn any non-taxable income into taxable income or to raise any taxable income rates,” said Deputy Finance Minister Arman Poghosian.
Other skeptics wondered whether all Armenians can handle the electronic reporting system to be introduced by tax authorities.
“Do we have any estimates of what percentage of our citizens is literate in this field and can take those actions?” said Karen Zadoyan of the Armenia Association of Lawyers.
Zadoyan also pointed to technical problems that have accompanied online payment and registration systems introduced by the authorities in recent years.