Audit Says Golos Owes 2.3M Rubles in Back Taxes
- The Moscow Times
- Jul. 22 2013 00:00
- Last edited 16:58
TheáFederal Tax Service has accused election watchdog Golos ofánot paying 2.28 million rubles ($70,200) ináincome taxes iná2009-10 onáfunding it received fromáUSAID, ináwhat rights activists see as theálatest ináa string ofástate attacks onáindependent observers.Auditors fromáTax Inspectorate No. 9 concluded that theá38 million rubles it received fromáthe U.S. Agency foráInternational Development was contributed "in theáinterests ofáthe U.S." andátherefore could not be exempt fromátaxation ináRussia, Kommersant reported Friday.
Golos has been firmly under theástate's spotlight since aálaw came intoáforce last November requiring nongovernmental organizations that receive funding fromáabroad andáengage inápolitical activities toáregister as "foreign agents" with theáJustice Ministry.
TheáNGO was ináJune ordered byáthe ministry toácease all activities forásix months, andáit was theáfirst toábe fined forárefusing toáregister, receiving aábill ofá300,000 rubles ináApril.
Theátax audit focused onáan agreement between Golos andáUSAID toámonitor Russian elections, foráwhich Golos received 22.53 million rubles iná2009 andá15.5 million iná2010.
This money was "wrongly" omitted "in profit tax calculation forá2009-2011" resulting ináunderpaid income tax toáthe tune ofá1.35 million rubles iná2009 andá930,000 rubles iná2010, theáaudit said.
Theáreport "suggests" that theáunpaid taxes should be recovered fromáGolos andáthat aáfine ofá463,000 rubles should be imposed onáthe organization.
Golos said theágrant constituted aáfree donation andáshould therefore be exempt, but tax authorities said USAID was not included ináthe government list ofáforeign organizations whose grants are not taxed.
Theáauditors referred toáthe national Security Strategy ofáthe Russian Federation andáthe official Foreign Ministry statement that theáwork ofáUSAID ináRussia "did not always corresponded toáthe declared goal ofápromoting bilateral cooperation ináthe humanitarian field."
Grigory Melkonyants, deputy director ofáelections watchdog Golos, said that theáauthorities' accusations had "nothing toádo with theálaw" andáthat they had been trying toácatch Golos out onásuch charges foráa whole year.
Director ofáthe Institute ofáHuman Rights Mikhail Gefter said theálatest news had "come out ofáthe blue" andácould lead toá"further havoc onáthe organization or even threaten its existence."