MEASURES TO SUPPORT SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES. CRITERIA OF SME

On March 25, 2020 President Putin addressed the nation on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The Head of state announced a series of social and economic measures to be taken in the nearest future. The measures are mainly aimed to support small and medium enterprises, which are most vulnerable to such economic situation.

Changes should be made by a federal law on amendments to the Tax Code. The law should be adopted by the State Duma, then approved by the Federation Council, signed by the President and published. Changes that improve the situation of taxpayers and payers of social contributions should come into force from the date stipulated by the law on amendments, but not earlier than the date of its publication. Other changes – may come into force not earlier than one month after the publication of the law on amendments and not earlier than the 1st day of the next tax period for the corresponding tax / settlement period for social contributions, i.e. not earlier than 01.01.2021.

The draft Law providing for amendments to the Tax Code was approved in the third reading at the State Duma's plenary session on March 31 (https://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/862653-7).

MEASURES TO SUPPORT SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

The proposed measures to support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) include:

Measures adopted by Federal Tax Service

“Tax holidays” for SMEs to May 1:

  • For the taxpayers listed as SME the tax authority will not be able prior the May 1 to:
    • send demands for tax payment in the presence of arrears;
    • collect taxes and social contributions.
  • These measures are to be implemented by the tax authorities themselves based on unified list of SMEs. No applications are needed. However, if the taxpayer falls under SME criteria (see below) but is not included in the list the above benefits shall not apply.

Status: effective from March, 25 2020 Source:  https://www.nalog.ru/rn77/news/activities_fts/9697120/, https://www.nalog.ru/rn77/business-support-2020/

Measures adopted by the legislative bodies

The RF Government has identified 22 industries* most affected by the spread of coronavirus infection, which will be the first to receive support. The list is not final and will be adjusted depending on evolution of the COVID-19 situation. According to the Instructions of Russian President Vladimir Putin these industries will be provided with the following support:

  • The six months deferred payment of all taxes (excluding VAT) for SMEs and micro-enterprises, deferred social contributions for micro-enterprises.
    • Taxpayers included in the Unified register of SME entities as of 1st of May 2020 as well as microenterprises are provided with "tax holidays" (deferred tax payments) by submitting, in established cases, requests for tax payment no earlier than May 1, 2020**, and microenterprises are additionally provided with deferral of social contributions.
    • Decisions to suspend operations on their accounts to ensure debt collection are also deferred.
    • The tax authorities will apply these measures independently. Taxpayers do not need to submit any additional applications.

Status: enters into force from March 25, 2020. Source: https://www.nalog.ru/rn77/news/activities_fts/9697120/, Draft government resolution https://regulation.gov.ru/projects#npa=100768

  • Six-month deferral on loans to SMEs;
  • SMEs will be entitled to apply to a bank or other professional lender with a request to suspend the loan payments for a period of up to six months.

Status: planned for adoption. The deadline for amending the laws and regulations is April 20, 2020.

  • Additional measures to ensure sustainable lending for real economic sector, including the provision of state guarantees and subsidies;

Status: planned for adoption. The deadline for amending the laws and regulations is April 15, 2020.

  • Moratorium on creditors filing bankruptcy claims and collecting debts and fines from businesses for six months;
  • Draft law N 931192-7 which provides for a moratorium on filing bankruptcy applications has been submitted to the RF State Duma,

Status: planned for adoption. The deadline for making changes to the NPA is April 20, 2020.

  • Deferred lease payments for Federal property rent;
  • Deferral is granted for payments made by SMEs in 2020 for the lease of Federal property. Additional agreements must be concluded within 3 business days from the date of the lessee's request. A similar measure is recommended for RF regions and municipalities.
  • Status: enters into force from March 19, 2020. Source: Order of the RF Government dated 19.03.2020 N 670-p <on measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises>, "Plan of priority measures (actions) to ensure sustainable economic development in the face of a worsening situation due to the spread of a new coronavirus infection" (approved by the RF Government on 17.03.2020)
  • The Bank of Russia is expanding SME loan refinancing program. In addition to the tool aimed at limiting interest rates on loans to borrowers, a new tool with a refinancing limit of 500 billion rubles is being introduced in order to maintain the volume of lending to SMEs. Under both tools, the Bank of Russia's interest rate is set at 4% starting from March 23, 2020.
  • For loans refinanced within the previously existing limit of 175 billion rubles, the Bank of Russia rate has been reduced from 6 to 4%, the final loan rate for the borrower should not exceed 8.5%, and all industry restrictions on lending to SMEs are removed.
  • Starting from April 2020, in addition to the already established limit of 175 billion rubles, additional funds in the amount of 500 billion rubles are allocated in order to maintain and increase the volume of loans provided by credit organizations to SMEs. Within the specified additional limit, the Bank of Russia will provide loans to credit organizations at the rate of 4% per annum for a period of 1 year. At the same time, loans will be provided to credit organizations with a high credit rating without collateral, and to credit organizations that do not have such a rating with a guarantee from JSC "SME Corporation".
  • Obtaining by SMEs loans at a preference interest rate of no more than 8.5%;

Status: enters into force from March 23, 2020. Source: Information of the Bank of Russia dated 20.03.2020 "the Bank of Russia has approved measures to support citizens, the economy and the financial sector in the context of the coronavirus pandemic"

* Source: The Order of the President: http://kremlin.ru/acts/assignments/orders/63080,  https://www.economy.gov.ru/

** Source: On sustainable economic development measures: https://regulation.gov.ru/projects#npa=100768

SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

SMEs include companies which average number of employees for the previous calendar year is:

  • up to 100 people for a small enterprise (among small enterprises there are microenterprises - up to 15 people);
  • 101 to 250 people for a medium-sized enterprise,

while the income received from business activities for the previous calendar year, which is determined in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of the Russian Federation on taxes and fees, summed up for all types of business activities and applied to all tax regimes, does not exceed the following values:

  • microenterprises - 120 million rubles;
  • small enterprises - 800 million rubles;
  • medium-sized enterprises - 2 billion rubles.

However, these organizations should meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Criteria, established in relation to the participants of the company:

participants - the Russian Federation, the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, municipalities, public or religious organizations (associations), charitable and other funds (excluding investment funds) own a total sum of no more than 25% of the share capital of a limited liability company (LLC) or joint capital of a business partnership or more than 25% of the voting shares of a joint stock company (JSC)

participants - foreign legal entities and (or) legal entities which are not subjects of SME, own a total sum of no more than 49% of the share capital of a limited liability company (LLC) or joint capital of a business partnership or more than 49% of the voting shares of a JSC.

An important fact is that companies, which members –  foreign legal entities, in turn, meet the criteria for income and average number of employees stipulated by Russian legislation for medium-sized enterprises (the maximum annual income is 2 billion rubles, the average number is not more than 250 people), are also recognized subjects of SME.

The exception is participants - residents of states and territories that provide a preferential tax regime for taxation and (or) do not provide for the disclosure and provision of information during financial transactions (offshore zones), included in the relevant list approved by Order of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation dated November 13, 2007 № 108n.

Other criteria by which the company can be classified as SME:

  • shares of a JSC traded on the established securities market are classified as shares of the high-tech (innovative) sector of the economy in accordance with the procedure established by the Government of the Russian Federation;
  • the activity of the company or a partnership is in the practical application (implementation) of the results of an intellectual activity (programs for computing machines, databases, inventions, utility models, industrial samples, selection achievements, topologies of integrated circuits, production secrets (know-how), the exclusive rights to which belong to the founders (participants), respectively, of this company or partnership - publicly funded, autonomous scientific institutions or organizations of higher education that are publicly funded institutions or autonomous institutions;
  • company or partnership has been granted the status of a project participant in accordance with Federal law № 244-FZ of September 28, 2010 "On The SKOLKOVO innovation center»;
  • founders (participants) of a company or partnership are legal entities included in the list of legal entities approved by the Government of the Russian Federation that provide state support for innovation activities in the forms established by Federal law No. 127-FZ of August 23, 1996 "On science and state scientific and technical policy».

UNIFIED REGISTER OF SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

The Federal Tax Service maintains a Unified register of SMEs. The legal entities and individual entrepreneurs registered there are entitled to take advantage of the benefits.

A company or entrepreneur can check their availability in the register online, directly on the website of the Federal Tax Service: https://rmsp.nalog.ru/search.html.  A company or entrepreneur that does not find itself in the registry has the right to contact the Federal Tax Service online with a request to check the register data, also directly on the Federal Tax Service website at: https://rmsp.nalog.ru/appeal-create.html.

The law does not provide an application form directly from a company or an individual entrepreneur for entry into the register.

Information on SMEs is submitted to the register by information suppliers - authorized ministries, stock exchanges, the Skolkovo Fund, shareholders register holders of joint-stock companies and auditors.

Each supplier provides information to the registry that it has access to. Thus, information on companies which participants – foreign legal entities as of January 1 of the current calendar year correspond with the conditions described above, is provided to the register by auditors. Note that verification and sending information for the purposes of inclusion in the register is a separate auditor services which is provided based on the clients’ request (Information Note of Ministry of Finance of 15 January 2019 No ИС-audit-26).

We recommend the companies with foreign participation more than 49% if their participants meet the criteria of the income and average number of employees established for medium-sized enterprises, to check their presence in the register on the website of the Federal Tax Service, and, if not in the register, apply online to verify the information in the register, as well as to their auditors for provision of the relevant information into the register.

Information is submitted by suppliers annually from July 1 to 5 in the form of electronic documents signed by an enhanced qualified electronic signature, using the official website of the Federal Tax Service of Russia on the Internet. The Federal Tax Service shall enter information into the register no later than the 10th day of the month following the month of their submission.

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