A Blank Slate - Russian Duma Passes Debt Forgiveness Plan and New Laws Regarding Foreign Agents

Today, the State Duma decided to relieve Russians from their burden of debt. This is about a bill that allows Russians to write off bad debts, specifically, back taxes. It took less than a week to prepare the amendments initiated by the President. Today, the State Duma also discussed amendments to the law on foreign agents.

Our correspondent, Yekaterina Mironova, is reporting from Okhotny Ryad.


If an individual is associated with a media agency and receives money from abroad, the media agency can be recognized as a foreign agent in Russia. Such tit-for-tat measures in response to the actions of the US are included in the bill that was introduced to the State Duma today. The authors emphasized that it's not about bloggers. It's aimed at foreign media agencies owned by private individuals. Deputies are asking bloggers not to worry.

Pyotr Tolstoy, State Duma Deputy Head: "There's not a word about bloggers, video bloggers, telegram bloggers, and other internet inhabitants. It's about some media entities that can be recognized as foreign agents according to formal attributes. In order not to register as a legal body, they try to hide behind private individuals. In such cases, the private individual that is a media outlet or is its owner and receives money from abroad, if these two facts are proved, can be called a foreign agent. So, all the bloggers can relax, write their blogs and have fun".

Now, about today's agenda. Today, as the 46th question in the second reading, deputies considered the amendments that bring a tax amnesty. Private individuals' and legal bodies' debts formed before January 1, 2015, will be forgiven. It'll all disappear, not in a bureaucratic way, but by a miracle. Taxpayers won't have to do anything. Such a New Year's Eve miracle it is.

Andrei Makarov, State Duma Budget and Tax Committee Chairman: "It'll concern private individuals with respect to transport, land, and property taxes, as well as commissions due for these debts. It'll also concern sole proprietors and even individuals who have already lost this status. However, there's an exception. It won't concern mineral production taxes, excise duties, and customs taxes. It's clear that the measures aren't related to those who are engaged in high-profit activities."

Sole proprietors will also be relieved from insurance tax debts that were due by January 1, 2017. Including those sole proprietors that have stopped operating.

One more amendment that was discussed today relieves people with disabilities, retired people, and veterans from paying taxes on land not larger than 6 acres. There used to be a tax rebate of 10,000, but it was recognized as ineffective. This initiative will apply to the fiscal year 2017.

Andrei Isayev, State Duma Budget and Tax Committee member: "If a pensioner has several land properties, he will determine which one of them will be relieved from cadastral payment. If such a statement isn't made, tax authorities will assess taxes at the rate of the highest-valued property and deduct these 6 acres from it. I think it's a good New Year's gift."

All these tax measures were initiated by the President. I'll remind you that Vladimir Putin talked about them during a news conference that took place on December 14. As expected, all these ideas will be discussed tomorrow in the final 3rd reading.

Yekaterina Mironova, Oleg Fyodorov, Danil Prokudin, Vesti