On the proposal to extend the benefits provided to "Skolkovo” residents

Amendments to the legislation extending the benefits provided to residents of the innovation center Skolkovo have been prepared1 .
Reimbursement of import duties and value-added tax on imported goods used by the project participants in Skolkovo is currently envisaged (Article 11 of the Federal Law of September 28, 2010 № 244-FZ "On the Innovation Centre Skolkovo). The draft law proposes to lift the restriction on the use of imported goods in Skolkovo and application of these exemptions, with backdating - January 1, 2011

Even without the proposed expansion, the practical application of these benefits is associated with serious problems. So, after the creation of a customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus benefit associated with the exemption of import duties, may incur additional direct budgetary costs. Agreement on fixing and execution within the customs union the procedure of charging and distributing import duties (other duties, taxes and charges having equivalent effect), concluded in the framework of the customs union, suggests that customs duties should be distributed among the participating countries in the following order:
The Republic of Belarus – 4.70%;
The Republic of Kazakhstan – 7.33%;
The Russian Federation –  87.97%.

Thus, where the Russian Federation charged a project participant an import duty of 100 USD, then when compensating it will lose 12.3 rubles. As 12.3 rubles will go to the budgets of Kazakhstan and Belarus. The government will have to compensate the Skolkovo project participant from the federal budget from other revenue budget lines.

In addition, the customs duties benefit does not hold ways to counter tax optimization, and therefore there may be risks of abuse of the law. Specifically, under the mediation of the project participants’ equipment can be imported without payment of import duties and value added tax. Later, after a certain period, imported equipment can be sold to non-participants in the project Skolkovo, at the inflated price as the profit of the Skolkovo resident is not subject to taxation2 . In this case the buyer of equipment will increase the depreciation expenses. Due to the fact that the law does not require participants in the project Skolkovo to pay the appropriate amount of import duties and VAT in case of sale of previously imported equipment, such a scheme is feasible.

In removing restrictions on the use of imported equipment by Skolkovo for the application of benefits for the import duties and VAT opportunities for abuse are growing. In the event amendments to the law are adopted, it will not be necessary to execute the sale of equipment in order to execute the described scheme of tax optimization – from the date of entry to the Ruffian Federation  the equipment can be freely used by the taxpayer – the scheme beneficiary who is not Skolkovo project participant. At the same time, if the latter also expects to increase depreciation expenses, the equipment sale must be executed.

Маlinina Т.А. – Head of Tax Policy Department
Кireeva А.V. – Head of Evaluation and Development of Laws and Regulations Department

1 See: In Skolkovo do not pay // Vedomosti. 2011. № 114 (2880).
 2The Skolkovo residents are exempt from corporate income tax. This right is lost with the loss of the status of the project participant or upon reaching the profit threshold amount from the sale of goods (works, services, property rights) of 1 billion rubles. In addition, if after reaching the profit threshold amount, his profit calculated cumulatively from the beginning of the year does not exceed 300 million rubles, then the project participant’s profit is taxed at 0% rate.