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Putin Signs Counterpart U.S. Tax Law

Published: July 2, 2014 (Issue # 1818)


President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing Russian banks to send information about U.S. tax payers to their native government and appease a contentious piece of legislation known as FATCA.

This has come as a relief to Russias largest banks, who will face the equivalent of a 30 percent tax on various key investments in the U.S. including the interest and dividend payments on U.S. securities, stocks and bonds if they fail to comply with the U.S. regulations.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA which came into force on Tuesday was initially devised in 2010 as a way to keep U.S. corporations and individuals from avoiding U.S. taxes by funneling money into accounts abroad. The law requires foreign banks to inform the IRS of any accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, to provide information about these accounts on the treasurys request and even to withhold money from clients suspected of tax evasion.

For over a year, the U.S. has been busily negotiating information-sharing agreements with countries worldwide. Eighty-six have already reached official or preliminary arrangements with the U.S., including China, who joined the list just last week, and known tax havens such as the Cayman Islands.

Russia is not on the list. The two sides were deep in negotiations up until March, but the Treasury Department quietly abandoned the talks after Russias annexation of Crimea and the international condemnation that followed. Russian financiers were left in the lurch and on course to collide with FATCAs rapidly approaching July 1 deadline.

I have not heard of any other countries who were in a similar situation, who were both deeply integrated into the international financial system and did not have an opportunity to finish the negotiations, said Konstantin Kochetkov, international partner and FATCA expert at the Moscow office of international law firm Morgan Lewis.

Fearful of the penalties for violating FATCA, Russias second largest banking group, VTB, even decided to phase out relations with its 2,000 U.S. clients last month. VTB president Mikhail Zadornov told Interfax on Monday that the bank no longer plans on cutting off its U.S. clients.

In its final form, the new law, signed by Putin on June 28 and published Monday on the governments legislation portal, will allow Russian banks to meet FATCAs requirements but only under the constant and empowered scrutiny of domestic authorities.

Within three days of registering with foreign tax authorities, Russian financial organizations including banks, life insurance agencies, stock market traders and more will have to inform state market watchdog Rosfinmonitoring, the Federal Tax Service and the Central Bank that they have done so.

The banks will have to declare any foreign clients subject to foreign account legislation, such as FATCA, to these agencies, as well as announcing any requests for information from a foreign tax authority. Any information sent abroad must first be sent to them 10 days in advance.

Rosfinmonitoring will also have the authority to unilaterally block information transfers abroad.

Banks will only be able to provide a taxpayers information if the foreign citizen consents to it, but if they refuse, the banks will have the option of severing its contract with that client. Companies are considered foreign if more than 10 percent of their charter capital is controlled by entities registered outside Russia and its Customs Union partners Belarus and Kazakhstan.

A total of 515 Russian banks had registered with the IRS by early June, according to the U.S. Treasury.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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