Belarus eager to earn some $4m from ‘Google tax’ in 2018

The Belarusian Tax and Duties Ministry intends to receive about $4 million in 2018 by collecting VAT from foreign providers of digital services. Svetlana Vysotskaya, Deputy Head of the International Relations Department of the International Tax Cooperation Office of the Belarusian Tax and Duties Ministry, made the statement in an interview with the Finance, Accounting, and Audit magazine, BelTA reports.

It is too early to predict how much money the state budget will get from the so-called Google tax. Everything depends on the number of foreign providers and the services they offer. “We believe the number of such companies will be close to 100 and revenues will be close to $4 million,” explained the official.

The picture will be clearer in April 2018 after the foreign companies, which provide services in Belarus, have submitted their VAT payment declarations for Q1 2018.

Amendments to Belarus’ Tax Code were prepared back in 2016 with a view to taxing foreign digital services, but the legislation came into force only on 1 January 2018.

The new legislation recognizes Belarus as the place where digital services are sold if the buyer is a natural person, who is physically inside the country, if the buyer pays for the services using a Belarusian bank account and a Belarusian IP address.

As of 1 January 2018 VAT is applicable to such services as providing rights to use software, games, databases, including music streaming and movie streaming. It means that foreign companies have to pay VAT in Belarus if their Belarusian customers download games and mobile apps, watch movies and listen to music. Belarus also started taxing remote access to digital books, audio, video, other productions and digital publications.

The list also includes advertising, including offering space and time for commercial aids, content hosting (Internet platforms), hosting offers to buy or sell products and services, property rights. Belarus also started taxing automatic Internet services, including information searching. Real time information about stock and commodity exchange quotations is a case in point. Website hosting, domain name registration, and access to search engines are also on the list.

Representatives of the Belarusian Tax and Duties Ministry noted they had been guided by the list of taxpayers, which is freely available from the website of the Russian Federal Tax Service. That list includes 123 companies. Many prominent companies are on that list such as Alibaba, Amazon, Bloomberg,, Nintendo, Samsung Electronics, The Financial Times, Uber, Viber, and Wargaming.

The Minsk city tax office of the Belarusian Tax and Duties Ministry is the agency in charge of working with non-resident taxpayers. The non-residents are supposed to pay a 20% VAT.

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