Hunt for hidden billionaires: Banks bound to report individuals’ purchases of foreign cash to tax authorities

The government has drawn up an amendment to the Tax Code that would authorize tax authorities to obtain information about individuals’ purchases of foreign cash from banks.

Such information is currently regarded as subject to bank secrecy. The amendment is needed in order to find persons whose expenses outrun their income, officials say. Even pensioners purchase large amounts of foreign currency, they stress.

Government experts suggested that the measure was needed to crack down on the illegal practice by companies and sole entrepreneurs to use individuals for purchasing foreign cash. Businesses seeking to evade taxes or those failing to buy enough foreign currency at the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange resort to the practice, they say.

Earlier this year, banks were required to provide information to tax authorities about individuals’ loans and deposits.

Moreover, last summer Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Miasnikovich warned that a tax might be imposed on non-working working-age individuals. There are about 445,000 such people in Belarus, who in no way contribute to the development of the Belarusian economy but still receive social benefits, he said. In September, 2013 the government was considering how non-working able-bodied individuals could partially compensate it for social services provided to them and their families. But in early January, 2014 the authorities decided to freeze the implementations of thaier plans because the imposition of a tax on non-working people was deterred by the difficulty of determining and identifying those liable to such a tax., following BelaPAN

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