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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tax Collectors Get Some Muscle

Look out tax cheats, evaders and scofflaws: Here comes the Tax Police.

Bullied, threatened, attacked and even suffering an invasion of their offices by tax evaders seeking to destroy records of their businesses, the Russian Tax Inspectorate is hiring guards to protect its tax collectors.

"We need to defend our employees", Yury Bachurin, who heads the department that investigates tax evasion, said at a parliamentary hearing Monday. Tax inspectors "simply get kicked out by the guards of some of these companies".

At the hearing of the parliamentary Committee on Budgets, Taxes and Prices, Bachurin spoke in favor of two draft laws that would change their department into a Tax Police and would give them guards to protect the collectors from violent tax evaders.

Bachurin said the guards would need to be uniformed and armed.

Tax collectors are facing a sharp rise in threats and attacks, said Bachurin's deputy, Valery Yampolsky.

Of the 100, 000 tax collectors in Russia, nearly 80 percent are women, and they are often confronted with burly, heavily armed guards if they want to enter an enterprise.

"They are simply scared to go out and collect taxes", Yampolsky said.

The Tax Police will investigate tax evasion, guard tax collectors and report on corruption inside the State Tax Service, Yampolsky added.

Since it started operating in August 1992, the tax inspection agency found 3. 5 billion rubles and nearly $300, 000 in unpaid taxes, Yampolsky said. Still, Yampolsky estimated that at least 30 percent of taxes owed to the Russian government were not paid.

Some tax collectors turn a blind eye on evasion in return for part of the loot. Bachurin said that 19 bribes had been reported since August, adding, however, "This is of course only the tip of the iceberg".

As tax collectors work alone, it is easy for them to gloss over part of the accounts, Bachurin said. In one instance, he said, a company had offered eight collectors a car each to cover up tax fraud.

The agency employs about 300 inspectors, but Yampolsky said that 25, 000 guards, one for every four tax collectors, were needed to convince businesses to pay up.

Tax evaders face penalties of up to five years in prison and confiscation of their property. In lesser cases, the evader will have to pay double the unpaid taxes, Yampolsky said.