By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Taxes will conclude partnership agreements with taxpayers this year, which was made possible after relevant amendments to the Tax Code went into effect, First Deputy Minister of Taxes Natig Amirov was quoted by Trend news agency as saying.
"For example, if a store owner agrees to use POS terminals, issue checks for all transactions and pay taxes on time, the ministry will sign an agreement with him, stipulating that the ministry will not conduct check-ups in the store so long as the taxpayer meets these obligations," Amirov said at a press conference on Tuesday. "Such agreements can also be concluded in other fields, such as provision of tax returns, tax accounting, and others."
Amirov said, however, that signing of such agreements is the right of the taxpayer, not an obligation.
"This is a new form of cooperation between taxpayers and the ministry, aimed to minimize the risks of taxpayers," Amirov said.
Amirov also spoke about the results of last year's activity of the ministry.
According to him, as a result of measures taken to combat illegal employment, over 180,000 labor contracts with 55,000 taxpayers were concluded in Azerbaijan in 2012.
"The most active work was observed in retail trade," he said. "Over 40,000 contracts with 23,000 taxpayers were concluded in this area last year."
He added that at the end of 2012 the ministry received declarations with information on 484,000 employees, which is 15 percent more than in May that year.
The Ministry of Taxes provides more than a half of its services in electronic form, Amirov said.
The ministry received 1,248 million tax declarations in 2012, 89.9 percent of which were filed electronically.
"Among all government agencies, we provide the largest number of e-services - 57. In 2012, the ministry received 88.5 million manats ($112 million) through e-services," he noted.
According to Amirov, in November-December 2012, 859,000 legal entities with local capital registered online.
Speaking about future measures, Amirov said the Azerbaijani government has no plans to abandon the simplified taxation system.
"Abolition of the simplified taxation regime is not on the agenda of the government in the near future. However, abolition of the system or its use in another form can be considered in the medium term context. This especially covers the service sector," Amirov said.
However, Amirov noted, entrepreneurs have an "ambiguous attitude" toward this system.
"Until recently, the simplified taxation regime was used with regard to legal entities with a turnover of 150,000 manats ($191,000), and to individuals with a turnover of up to 90,000 manats ($114,000)," Amirov said. "The attitude of entrepreneurs to the simplified taxation regime is ambiguous. Some believe that it should be canceled, while others, on the contrary, think it should be maintained. Following meetings with entrepreneurs, we came to a consensus to set a single level of 120,000 manats ($153,000) for both individuals and legal entities. This was reflected in the changes to the Tax Code, which came into force in 2013."
Speaking of long-term projects, Amirov said the ministry is preparing an action plan to accomplish the tasks set forth to the tax authorities under the Concept "Azerbaijan 2020: A look into the future."
"The Concept laid out tasks for the tax authorities as well. Currently, the Ministry of Taxes is preparing a comprehensive strategic action plan, which will cover all areas of activity of the ministry," Amirov said.
According to him, the envisioned measures include the provision of all services by the ministry in electronic form, improvement of the tax laws for more support to the investment environment, bringing it into compliance with European standards, optimization of tax rates, including reduction of some rates, and improvement of tax administration.
"The action plan will be approved in the coming month," Amirov said.
The "Azerbaijan 2020: A Look into the Future" Development Concept was approved by President Ilham Aliyev in late December. The concept encompasses the main strategic objectives of development policy in all areas of the country. Its implementation will be carried out through state programs.