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Kirill Vikulov

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Kirill Vikulov is a partner in the Tax law practice group of Baker McKenzie’s Moscow Office. He has extensive experience in advising Russian and multinational clients on a wide range of complex tax issues, including M&A deals, joint ventures, international holding and financing structures, and various financial and capital markets transactions. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie in 2007, Kirill worked as a tax consultant in the international tax structuring department of an international audit company. Kirill is also a visiting professor of international tax law at MGIMO.

The Russian Federal Tax Service (the “FTS”) has issued a letter clarifying the provisions of Article 54.1 of the Russian Tax Code on tax avoidance, outlining a methodology for tax inspectorates on how to identify misrepresentations of business operations, check material facts and intent to use sham or “fly-by-night” companies. It also provides taxpayers with criteria for counterparty due diligence, which should eliminate the possibility of their subsequent tax liability.

In addition, the FTS has finally admitted the need for so-called “full tax reconstruction” (a comprehensive reclassification of transactions previously applied only by the courts) and the ability to deduct actual expenses for corporate profits tax purposes and to offset input VAT on transactions with sham companies. However, this is possible only if a taxpayer discloses the actual suppliers and financial terms in such transactions.

New amendments to the Russian Tax Code1 (“Law”) will allow individuals to reduce the Russian individual income tax on profit distributions from foreign companies and unincorporated vehicles (e.g., trusts) sourced from dividends originally paid by Russian companies that are subject to Russian withholding tax (“indirect tax credit”).

The Law eliminates the existing double taxation and economically equates ownership of Russian assets via Russian and foreign companies (trusts). At the same time, the Law eliminates the 0% tax rate previously available for Russian companies on dividends received through intermediary foreign companies that are not beneficial owners of income. This will allow, for example, the application of the 15% Russian withholding tax rate on dividends paid to Cypriot and Luxembourg intermediary companies under the recently amended tax treaties. Some historic holding structures will get a deferral; for them the new rules will apply as of 2024.