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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tax Minister: A Sixth of Firms Cheat

One in six companies is breaching tax laws, and total tax arrears have risen by a third since January - but collection targets are being met, the Tax Ministry said Friday.

Arrears excluding fines rose to 217.8 billion rubles ($8.7 billion) by July 1, 1999, from 159.2 billion rubles Jan. 1, 1999, the ministry said in documents prepared for a meeting of ministry officials. Total tax arrears stood at 372 billion rubles July 1.

Acting Tax Minister Alexander Pochinok told reporters the ministry was planning to check the payments record of the main taxpayers - natural gas giant Gazprom, national power grid Unified Energy System, and their subsidiaries.

Pochinok also said banks were holding about 17 billion rubles owed to the federal budget by their clients.

He said ministry checks in the first half of the year showed widespread violations of tax legislation. "We have established that every sixth company and about half of all [checked] individuals were breaching tax laws," he said at the meeting.