Belarus Tax Consulting Institute

Introducing the Institute of Tax Consulting in Belarus

The Institute of Tax Consulting has been successfully implemented in many countries. Its positive impact on business environment has been repeatedly confirmed. In February 2014, an important project of building the institution of tax consultants was launched in Belarus. The responsibility for the successful implementation of the project in the national economy by January 2017 lied on the Ministry of Taxes and Dues.

Tax consultant – who is it?

In simple words: a tax consultant is a competent specialist between taxpayers and tax authorities. His mission is to protect the interests of companies and firms, helping them solve tax issues. The list of their tasks may include:

• Preparation of tax returns;

• Submission of documents to the tax authorities;

• Consultations and recommendations in the segment of tax optimization;

• Protecting the interests of taxpayers in the courts;

• Comprehensive tax services for legal entities and individuals;

• Analysis of company activities and verification of tax returns;

• Accounting and tax accounting for small businesses;

• Calculation of the tax base;

• Informing customers about innovations in tax legislation.

Companies have the opportunity to use the services of a consulting company that works in the tax and accounting outsourcing segment.

Before entrepreneurs and business owners, faced with problems in the field of taxation, couldn’t receive highly qualified assistance. Accountants, lawyers, auditors in most cases coped with such tasks, but their professional activity is different. And tax inspectors, who are well versed in the intricacies of resolving issues of this nature, were on the other side of business and, as a rule, defended the interests of the state, not individual business entities. That is why consultants should be guided in jurisprudence, accounting, economy and, of course, in the aspects of taxation, in order to skillfully outline the necessary range of tasks and competently solve them.

The role of implementing the Program in the national economy of Belarus

So far, not all businessmen understand the role of tax consulting in Belarus in general, and they cannot appreciate the importance of implementing the project for the state and in particular for their company. But it is a great chance to minimize entrepreneurial risks, reduce the possibility of errors that result in penalties. As for the national scale, tax advice will bring Belarus closer to international standards of tax service for businesses and will soften the investment climate in the country.

Some skeptics ask: why did they began such a transformation of the tax system and what has changed at the state level and in business circles? The answer is simple: this process is logical, and Belarus must certainly join the list of countries that have successfully implemented this. The country is interested in investors, and investors are interested in working in familiar and understandable conditions. A great role in making the investment climate is given to the time that is spend on “clarifying relations” with the tax authorities, the ability to quickly resolve issues of the correctness and timeliness of payment of fees. Businessmen are willing to pay for the competence and professionalism provided by qualified tax services.

It is world common practice when tax consultant is the representative of the company in communication with tax inspectorate. The complexity of the legislative framework and the need to navigate a lot of nuances requires the participation of professionals in a dialogue, and only then the solution will be objective and effective.

How it all began and whose ideas have been implemented

The head of the project “Assistance to the Republic of Belarus in creating the institute of tax consultants”, was Taisiya Yeletsky, Doctor of Economics.

It all began on the investment forum in Vitebsk in 2010, where Taisiya Vladimirovna met with the German tax consultant. Discussing the problems of attracting investment flow and finding serious investors, he expressed a desire to talk with a certified tax consultant in order to determine the situation with taxation in Belarus. The proposed idea of clarifying issues at the tax inspectorate or at consulting companies providing accounting support and business planning services provoked strong protest from a representative of a group of investors from Germany.

It was the began of the problem: for that time many countries had been developing the tax consultancy system for decades, while in Belarus it did not exist at all.

After that meeting the Ministry of Taxes and Duties readily supported the project idea. Belarusian and foreign experts began to work on its development:

• a regulatory framework and favorable legal conditions were drawn up;

• was analyzed successful foreign experience;

• educational materials were developed that could be used for training and certification of tax consultants;

• informational promotion of the project was carried out.

The history of the establishment of the institution of tax consulting on a global scale

In European countries, representatives of business got the opportunity to use tax consulting in the early twentieth century. But at that time the institute of tax consulting was not as it is now and the service was usually provided as part of general management consulting, the purpose of which was financial control over the business operations. Specialists involved in resolving issues had an accountant education and experience in private practice of conducting business accounting.

The sixties of the previous century can be called the period of the real formation of tax consulting as a segment of the consulting business. In countries where, on the basis of the provision of accounting, auditing, and management services, the birth of the institute of tax consulting began, various ways of its development were outlined.

State authorities showed their interest in upgrading the system. They recognized the need to regulate relations between the tax service and taxpayers, who in most cases do not have a sufficient level of knowledge in the field to fully defend their interests and make mistakes in calculating taxes and fees. The legendary “carrot and stick” method was masterfully applied, whereas earlier they used exclusively the “stick” – the requirement of strict observance of tax rules and the application of penalties for errors. «Carrot» in the form of tax advice provided an opportunity for companies to receive a range of information services and practical competent assistance in resolving tax issues. Thanks to this, representatives of big business and private entrepreneurs can solve their difficulties with tax legislation.

It is interesting to know that in many countries, only authorized by state bodies are entitled to work in tax advisory sphere. For taxpayers, this is a very important factor, since, having a contract with a consulting company providing services in the tax consulting, they can be sure of the competence of specialists. The state has its own levers of influence and establishes a legal framework – persons accredited to provide this kind of services undergo a serious selection system and are fully responsible for the result of the work they perform.

Features of counseling systems in European countries

Different counties have different form of interaction. Providing with information and advice takes place at the local, regional and even central level. Clients personally contact competent organizations and receive consultations by telephone or e-mail.

The greatest attention deserves the colossal experience in organizing tax consultations in Germany. In 1961, the Federal Law “About Tax Consulting” was adopted and a new job, a tax consultant, appeared. Today there are more than 80 thousand tax consultants in Germany.

The state strictly controls companies operating in this sphere.  A distinctive feature of tax advice is a fixed tariffication of payment for specialist services – it is written in the catalog on a common basis. Almost all other countries operate according to the usual market pattern of remuneration formation based on supply and demand fluctuations.

In the UK, every person who has received a specialized education can call himself a tax consultant, but the level of trust to him among clients will be extremely low. In order to be better in the service market, you need to get a qualification level – Chartered Tax Adviser. If a person have already worked in the bodies of British taxation for 3 years, only after that he can pass a difficult exam and take the right to receive the qualification of a certified tax consultant. Professional support, systematic improvement of knowledge, analysis of legislative innovations, participation in thematic conferences are mandatory requirements for tax consultants in the UK and many other countries.

In the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, France, Italy, tax consultants can freely carry out their professional activities. Their main task is to solve customer problems without going beyond the boundaries of legislative norms. Unlike the recognized German scheme, the work here is not based on total “state regulation”, but requires mandatory membership in professional associations and self-regulatory communities, where they have their own regulations, the implementation of which is mandatory for all tax consultants.

Tax Advisers in Russia

In Russia the importance of the profession of a consultant in taxes and fees was discussed in the early nineties, when the foundations of the development of entrepreneurial activity were laid. New businessmen did not have the necessary knowledge to determine correctly the tax system, calculate possible deductions for the future, and conduct a constructive dialogue with the tax authorities. And while nothing is heard about the institute of tax consultants at the legislative level, the service market makes its demands – many lawyers retrained and handed potential clients business cards indicating the profession of “tax lawyer, consultant”. As a rule, they were well acquainted with international experience in tax legal relations, saw the prospects of introducing the system on the territory of Russia. At the legislative level, the problem began to be solved only in 1997-1998.

Three stages of implementing the project of tax consultants

There were three stages of the project implementation in Belarus:

1. Creation of appropriate legal conditions;

2. Training of specialists, their certification, creation of an educational and methodological base;

3. Testing of tax outsourcing at certain business facilities, informational promotion of the project, popularization of the profession of tax consultant.

The legal field for the successful creation of the institute of tax consulting in Belarus is ready. Training and certification of applicants for the assignment of a professional level of “tax consultant” occur according to a special approved program. 

Who can become a tax consultant in Belarus

In Belarus only qualified professionals are able to provide tax advice services.  Representatives of consulting companies that provide comprehensive accounting services in Minsk and engage in audit activities are also able to consult.

In order to go through the procedure and get the status you need:

• Pass a qualification exam;

• Have a specialized education and at least two years of experience in the field of taxation;

• Take care of liability insurance;

• Be a membership of the Tax Consultant Chamber.

The training is carried out on the basis of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Retraining of Economic Personnel of the Belarusian State Economic University. Qualified professional practitioners from Belarus and foreign countries who have successfully implemented this practice are involved in teaching.

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