Of­fi­cial thugs

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

Ukraine’s big­gest on­line trader of home ap­pli­ances, Rozetka.ua, was par­a­lyzed on April 19. In an all-too-fa­mil­iar scene for av­er­age busi­nesses in Ukraine that are not sup­ported or al­lied with the top ech­e­lons of power, the tax col­lec­tors ar­rived with force. The busi­ness’ servers, the main tool for do­ing busi­ness, were taken over by the tax au­thor­i­ties on the charges of tax eva­sion.

The tax au­thor­i­ties claim the com­pany owes them Hr 8 mil­lion, a charge that the firm de­nied. It even chal­lenged the le­gal­ity of the orig­i­nal tax in­spec­tion that re­sulted in these claims, but lost a court case.

The tax au­thor­i­ties ar­rived unan­nounced to the com­pany that hosted Rozetka. ua’s servers. This dis­rupted not only the ac­tiv­ity of the home ap­pli­ances store, but the big­gest host­ing com­pany in Ukraine, Miro­host.

The plot is prob­a­bly even more complicate­d, but that’s be­yond the point. The point is that the tax au­thor­i­ties are once again used as an at­tack dog on busi­ness, de­spite the fa­vorite mantra of the au­thor­i­ties this year that they want to de­crim­i­nal­ize com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties to al­low busi­nesses to breathe.

With great fan­fare, they had changes to the crim­i­nal code ap­proved by par­lia­ment, turn­ing for­merly il­le­gal and flawed busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties into mi­nor mis­de­meanors rather than crim­i­nal of­fenses. This in­cludes tax fraud and tax eva­sion.

So, since tax eva­sion is not a crim­i­nal of­fense, sus­pi­cion of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity in this sphere should trig­ger a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion and re­sult in a court hear­ing, not in phys­i­cal at­tacks on the busi­nesses’ prop­erty and en­su­ing chaos and paral­y­sis of the busi­ness ac­tiv­ity.

Such meth­ods are plain thug­gish. Guilty or not of tax eva­sion, this is not how busi­nesses should be treated. Par­tic­u­larly, in the coun­try whose lead­ers pre­tend they care for busi­ness.

So, dear tax in­spec­tors, stay civil. Fight in courts.

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