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.