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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Imports Get Tax Reprieve, Report Says

The State Customs Committee has announced that imported goods brought into the country before Feb. 1 will be exempt from the new value-added and excise taxes.


According to the daily newspaper Izvestia, the ruling was made to lessen confusion over the taxes, which took effect Feb. 1. Without the ruling, sellers of imported goods could have been charged the taxes for products that they had imported before they even knew of the taxes.


The announcement, made Feb. 5, comes after government officials visited many hard-currency stores in December, requiring that they pay VAT retroactively, in some cases as far back as August.


The customs committee also said that the new excise taxes will only be charged on goods imported after March 31, as long as the import contract was signed before Dec. 22, when the new taxes were first announced.


In other words, goods physically imported to Russia before Feb. 1 are free of both the new VAT and excise taxes. Goods imported after Feb. 1 are subject to VAT and excise taxes, unless they were brought in under contracts signed before Dec. 22, in which case they are exempt from excise taxes only.


The committee also released a list of imported goods that are exempt from value-added tax. The list includes milk and meat products, tea, sugar, coffee, medicines and medical equipment, as well as some clothing and furniture.


Excise taxes, which can vary from 10 to 90 percent, apply to cigarettes, alcohol, luxury items, cars and trucks.


The newspaper Commersant calculated last week that a Western car, bought for $1, 000, would cost the importer $500 under the new tax regime: 25 percent in import duties, combined with 25 percent in excise charges.


The new figure of $1, 500 will be added to again by the VAT, which is calculated as 20 percent of the difference between the retail and wholesale prices.


Announced in December, the imposition of value-added and excise taxes on imported goods had been scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, but the required regulations were not ready until Feb. 5, Commersant reported.