Home » News » The Ministry of Finance offered the Central Bank to exchange secrets – Newspaper Kommersant No. 231 (6952) dated 16.12.2020

The Ministry of Finance offered the Central Bank to exchange secrets – Newspaper Kommersant No. 231 (6952) dated 16.12.2020

The Ministry of Finance has prepared amendments that expand the tax authorities’ access to banking secrecy – they will be able to receive data on transactions on the accounts of banks and their clients not only upon request, as now, but within the framework of regular information exchange with the Central Bank. The Bank of Russia, in turn, will be able to receive from the Federal Tax Service information constituting tax secrets. This “exchange of secrets” is intended to facilitate the collection of information on all cash flows in the country and de facto makes it possible to control expenses and incomes at least in relation to companies. The FTS emphasizes that they are not talking about the abolition of banking and tax secrets and that the tax authorities will not have direct access to the statements on transactions on the accounts of individuals. The changes fit into the previously announced plans of the Federal Tax Service “with big data” and make the relationship between the state and the taxpayer much more transparent.

The Ministry of Finance has published two bills that should provide a broader exchange of data on taxpayers between the Central Bank and the Federal Tax Service than it is now. It is assumed that the Central Bank will transfer information constituting bank secrets to the tax authorities, while the Federal Tax Service provides the Bank of Russia with data protected by tax secrets. The explanatory note to the project says that this is necessary, since “unscrupulous taxpayers, implementing a policy of aggressive tax planning, are using increasingly complex tax evasion schemes, characterized by high latency.”

This “exchange of secrets” should increase the efficiency of tax officials in identifying tax minimization schemes.

The Central Bank, having received information on the income of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs, information on dubious transactions, property, objects of taxation and debts to the budget of clients of banks, insurers, and so on, will be able to better perform its functions of a regulator.

Let us clarify that now banks automatically transfer information to tax authorities only about opening / closing accounts or changing details within the framework of currency control; they can only learn about account transactions upon request. Information exchange between the Central Bank and the Federal Tax Service is regulated by an interdepartmental agreement. In private conversations, representatives of the banking community claim that this exchange is taking place at “minimum turnovers.”

If the amendments are adopted, its volumes will increase significantly – the Central Bank will have to disclose to the tax authorities almost all the information available to it about banks and clients.

Note that the topic of expanding information exchange between tax authorities and the Central Bank is contained in the “Main directions of tax policy for 2021-2023” of the Ministry of Finance. The department explained to Kommersant yesterday that the implementation of the new measures will help whitewash the economy and will not affect the interests of bona fide taxpayers through the use of a risk-based approach in the selection of objects for tax control. “It is important that mass data exchange is not expected. The list of documents and information to be exchanged will be determined by an agreement between the Bank of Russia and the Federal Tax Service, ”the ministry said. Access to information constituting tax secrets will be with a limited number of persons, and the exchange will be carried out using secure communication channels and implies administrative and criminal liability for the disclosure of any data.

The FTS emphasizes that we are not talking about the abolition of banking or tax secrets – in accordance with the Tax Code, all information received by tax authorities about taxpayers is tax secret, and has a special storage and access regime. The service notes that the changes will significantly reduce the number of requests to banks to provide information about transactions on the accounts of their clients. “This will reduce labor and material costs, increase the efficiency of the risk-based approach to tax control and prevent damage from unscrupulous taxpayers using various schemes to avoid taxes,” the service told Kommersant. They emphasized that the bills do not provide for direct access to statements on transactions on the accounts of individuals. Such information, as before, can be obtained only with the consent of the head of a higher tax authority, the head or deputy head of the Federal Tax Service when conducting tax audits against these persons or requesting documents from them in accordance with paragraph 1 of Art. 93.1 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation, that is, in a very narrow list of cases.

Experts are not afraid of innovations.

“The new procedure will increase the level of automation of interaction between tax authorities and the Bank of Russia in terms of control over taxpayers and preventing the use of tax evasion schemes. In the context of the trend towards increasing tax collection, this measure looks logical, ”says Mikhail Klementyev, partner at KPMG in Russia and the CIS. According to the managing director of the NKR rating agency Stanislav Volkov, the changes will affect not so much banks as their clients. “The tax office can now ask a lot about the client’s bank accounts, and after clarification, the interaction can be more complete,” he told Kommersant.

Aleksandra Ambrasovskaya, partner of the MEF PKF tax litigation practice, explains that now the tax authorities have the right to request information about the accounts and operations of bank customers from themselves, and not centrally through the Central Bank. At the same time, direct information interaction between the Central Bank and the Federal Tax Service is mainly of a technical nature and concerns banks, not their clients. “It is noteworthy that the bill emphasizes the special nature of relations between the Central Bank and the Federal Tax Service, delegating to them the right to independently agree on the list of documents and information, as well as the procedure for their submission to tax authorities. In this regard, the effectiveness of the exchange of banking and tax secrets depends on the terms of this agreement, although in principle this mechanism can significantly facilitate the collection of the entire mosaic of cash flows of bank clients and increase the transparency of the financial environment as a whole, ”Alexandra Ambrasovskaya is sure.

According to the director of the legal department of the ICB Irina Gudkova, after the adoption of the amendments, the Central Bank will have the right to inform tax officials a wide range of information that has become known to him in the framework of supervisory activities. The Central Bank itself did not comment on the new horizons of regulation.

Note that the “exchange of secrets” conceived by the Ministry of Finance fits into the previously announced plans of the Federal Tax Service “with big data” and makes the relationship between the state and the taxpayer much more transparent.

The ability to obtain information about a large part of cash flows in the country de facto makes it possible to control expenses and income, at least in relation to companies.

Tatiana Grishina, Maxim Builov, Oleg Sapozhkov

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