Updated at 16:23,20-06-2018

Governments idea of imposing tax on non-workers appears to have stalled

Syarhey KARALEVICH, naviny.by

Authorities apparently do not know how to realize their idea of collecting a tax from non-working people, BelaPAN said.

"The Council of Ministers has not yet submitted to the parliament any proposals regarding the collection mechanism, rates and imposition criteria of this tax," Deputy Finance Minister Maksim Yermalovich told reporters Thursday in the lobby of the House of Representatives. "Government officials currently discuss various ways of involving non-working people in financing public services that are provided to them."

According to Mr. Yermalovich, authorities are considering how to collect payments from non-working people. This could be done through certain types of insurance, including medical insurance, and the imposition of lump-sum non-tax payments that would compensate the state for the costs of services provided to non-workers, such as medical services and utilities.

"There is a whole range of possible ways to solve this problem, which does exist," Mr. Yermalovich said. "The government has not yet made a final decision on the mechanism of solving this problem. This also holds true for determining those who can be assigned to the category of non-working people."

Svyatlana Kretava, head of the finance ministrys Main Social and Science Funding Directorate, claimed a month ago that authorities had already drafted a bill that would impose a tax on non-working people.

The bill defines those who can be viewed as non-working people, Ms. Kretava said, without elaborating.

"Afterwards, a decision will be made for them to contribute to public revenues by paying a special tax. They should pay for what they have actually consumed while using free educational and medical services," Ms. Kretava said, speaking at a meeting of several standing committees of the House of Representatives.

According to Ms. Kretava, non-working working-age people would have to pay an annual tax pegged to the Base Rate (currently 130,000 rubels), which could amount to 2.6 million rubels a year.

In December 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Anatol Tozik suggested measures against those who pay no taxes. Belarus has about 400,000 people who "parasitize on the social policy of the state" by not working or by holding unofficial jobs, he said.

Alyaksandr Yarashevich, a member of the House of Representatives, said in June that the House might revisit the problem of "parasitism."

Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich warned in July 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.

The government is considering how non-working able-bodied individuals could partially compensate it for social services provided to them and their families, First Deputy Labor and Social Security Minister Pyotr Hrushnik said on September 30 during a question-and-answer session hosted by the ministry.

The constitution's Article 56 requires citizens to pay taxes by way of compensation for the government's expenses, Mr. Hrushnik said.

From the standpoint of social justice, all working-age citizens should pay taxes in any country, including Belarus, he stressed.

The Belarusian government subsidizes the public health sector, the educational and cultural and sports spheres, the utilities sector, public transportation, the communications sector and other branches of social infrastructure, Mr. Hrushnik noted.

According to government officials, many Belarusians do not apply for registration as unemployed because they hold unofficial jobs and are unwilling to pay taxes.