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Section “Society”, June 27, 2016
What does the Traffic police fine the Finns for?
Upon request of “Fontanka.fi” Mr. Vasily Davydov, advocate, member of the Board of Directors and the official representative of DCO, LLC international law firm, have commented on the violations of traffic regime in Finland.
In 2015 the Traffic police of Finland issued 405 thousand reports of prosecutions for violations of traffic rules. Speed infringement proved to be the most common violation. The second most common violations are those related to reckless driving and underestimation of road situation and which did not bring any damage nor victims. In fact, these are situations where the driver loses control over the vehicle and it slides into a ditch, but no one is injured. Penalties for drunk driving (17 600 reports) are also among the top-three positions of the Traffic police rating. The number of arrests for drunk driving increased: 30 more cases were revealed in 2015 than in 2014.
The Finnish Police takes the non-use of safety belts very seriously. More than 15,7 thousand reports were issued for this kind of traffic violation last year. It is noteworthy that the fine for the non-use of safety belts is 35 euro and that both the driver and all the passengers should be fastened in cars, trucks and even busses.
Our company reminds you to be careful and not to lose vigilance while driving outside abroad, be it Finland or other European countries. Please, keep in mind that you a on the territory of a foreign country and even a smallest accident may bring you serious trouble. Do not exceed the speed limit, control the road situation and react to changes promptly. In Northern countries or in wooded areas pay attention to the “Animals on the road| sign.
Section “Society”, May 31st , 2016.
Ethnic crime in Finland
Upon request of “Fontanka.fi” Mr. Vasily Davydov, advocate, member of the Board of Directors and the official representative of DCO, LLC international law firm, have commented Finnish ethnic crime statistic figures, published in the well-known Finnish newspaper Iltalehti. The presented data includes also the number of crimes committed in Finland by immigrants. The article highlights the following issues: who of the European natives disturbs the peace of the Finnish citizens and why do the immigrants from Russia and CIS commit crimes so easily? What lies behind the figures?
Along with the analysis of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior data and its comparison with this of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the article presents the practice of DCO, LLC law firm in handling different cases involving Russian citizens in Finland.
In conclusion of the review our representative notes that “the crime rate among the foreigners in this country is much higher than that of the Finns. The fact that crime rates in the quiet Finland are higher than those in Russia, including Saint Petersburg, can only be explained by a great level of hidden crime here”.
Section “Business”, 15th May, 2014.
Finnish VAT: what should residents of the Russian Federation know?
The main document on the base of which regulating of calculation, payment and return of value added tax (VAT), or “Аrvonlisävero” (ALV) in Finnish, is done in Finland is Law on VAT 30.12.1993/1501 (Arvonlisäverolaki 30.12.1993/1501).
The main theses on VAT set forth in brief for Russians are as follows:
1. The Law on VAT divides foreign (situated beyond the limits of the European Union) payers of VAT in two main groups:
— natural persons, not entrepreneurs;
— entrepreneurs (this group includes individual private companies and organisations);
2. In respect of acquiring goods and services the law on VAT introduces different regimes of payment and reckoning of VAT for foreign payers;
3. Natural persons — foreigners — are entitled to return of VAT when acquiring goods and taking them abroad and if they acquire services from Finnish entrepreneurs (legal entities) then sellers do not collect VAT from them;
4. If a foreign entrepreneur acquires goods from a Finnish company (entrepreneur) then, generally, the seller must not collect VAT from the foreigner, but in case of acquiring services the law strictly stipulates collecting VAT. However, in the latter case a non-resident entrepreneur is entitled to return of VAT from Finland’s budget.
When is VAT collected?
In accordance with paragraph 1 of Law on VAT 30.12.1993/1501 (hereinafter “the Law on VAT”) VAT is collected:
1. in the course of entrepreneur activity when selling goods and services on Finland’s territory;
2. when importing goods onto Finland’s territory;
3. when transporting goods on the territory of the EU in the order established by paragraph 26 of the law;
4. when transporting goods for their processing in a storage area in the order established by paragraph 72 of the law.
By the general rule, a seller is the payer of VAT (exclusions are possible, for example, if goods or services are sold by a non-resident in Finland).
The following are fully freed from VAT in Finland:
1. Organisations whose earnings for an accounting period do not exceed EUR 8,500;
2. Public philanthropic organisations;
3. Religious organisations.
Rates of VAT in Finland:
The main basic rate of VAT in Finland is high enough — 24%; there exist rates of 14% and 10%.
Is it reasonable for a foreigner to be registered in Finland as a payer of VAT?
Within the bounds of the law on VAT a foreigner is an entrepreneur whose residence is outside Finland. The place of his entrepreneur activity or the place where he constantly lives is understood his residence. It is very important that a foreigner has the absolute, unconditional right to be registered as a payer of VAT in Finland. In this case he becomes a taxpayer in respect of VAT, i.e., he presents on his own a tax return and pays VAT into Finland’s budget.
If a foreigner has no constant residence in Finland and he is not registered as a payer of VAT then the obligation to pay VAT into the budget is laid upon a buyer of goods or services. VAT is not collected if the Finnish state is the buyer of goods or services from a foreigner.
Thus, if you an entrepreneur of your organisation realises sale of goods and services in Finland and at the same time you bear expenses in Finland then you have a definite mechanism for replenishment of your circulating assets and saving them. It is reasonable to be registered as a payer of VAT in Finland, to inform of it your Finnish partner and get money resources with VAT included (i.e., in the amount increased by 24%). In this case you will reckon VAT that you pay amongst payments to your Finnish partners and that is connected with your activity in Finland. But when practically realising this scheme it is necessary to take into account limitations established for residents of the Russian Federation by the Federal law “On currency regulating and currency control” (Federal law № 173-ФЗ of 10.12.2003).
In what cases one does not need to pay VAT when acquiring goods?
We should understand what criteria are established by the law so that goods or services are considered realised on Finland’s territory and what ones — so that they are considered realised outside the territory of Finland and the EU. It is very important as in the first case the value of their sale is the basis for calculating Finnish VAT and in the second case it is not.
By the general rule, VAT is not collected if a seller takes goods away from the bounds of the EU or goods are sold to a foreign entrepreneur for using them beyond the bounds of the EU.
Besides, goods are not considered sold in Finland if the seller or someone else on the seller’s behalf transports the goods from Finland to another state, a member of the EU, but observing definite provisions in respect of the buyer, namely, if the buyer:
1. is an entrepreneur whose activity in his own country in no part is connected with reckoning and returning VAT;
2. is no entrepreneur person;
3. is an entrepreneur to whom in his own country the order is established of applying the full rate in the course of the procedure of starting some production;
4. is a natural person.
In what cases one has to pay VAT when acquiring goods?
Goods are considered sold in Finland and VAT is collected if:
1. they are in Finland when being transported to the buyer;
2. the seller or someone else on the seller’s behalf has begun transporting the goods in Finland (unless otherwise established by items 63 a, 63 b or 63 d of the law);
3. the seller or someone else on the seller’s behalf has begun transporting the goods on the territory of the EU and is doing this for the purpose of their sale in Finland;
4. the goods are transported from one country of the EU to another and the seller performs their assembling and installation on Finland’s territory.
(All questions of collecting VAT in respect of selling goods in Finland are solved in details in section 5 (Sale and transportation of goods in Finland) and section 6 (Collecting VAT in the course of international trade) of the law on VAT).
Does one need to pay VAT for services acquired in Finland?
In respect of selling services to Finland’s non-residents very important provisions are formulated in paragraph 69h of the Law. In practice most Finnish companies and Finnish entrepreneurs violate the provisions of this article increasing their invoices to Russian natural persons by the amount of VAT.
Literally the text of the indicated article translated into Russian looks as follows:
Non-material services rendered to another person than an entrepreneur are not considered as rendered in Finland if they are delivered away from the bounds of the EU at the place of the buyer’s constant residence or, unless the services are delivered at the place of constant residence, the buyer’s residence is outside the bounds of the EU.
The indicated services include:
1. transmission of rights for a trade mark, production, patent, license or other similar rights;
2. advertising services and placing announcements;
3. consulting, production development, planning, accounting and audit, office work, drawing, translating, legal or other similar services;
4. automatic processing of data, computer and system administration, programming;
5. data transmission;
6. financial and insurance services except for lease of bank cells;
7. lease of labour force;
8. lease of movable property except for lease of transportation means;
9. obligations fully or partially concerning use of rights indicated in item 11 of this list or commercial use of data;
10. providing access to a gas network or a network connected with it, an electric network or to systems of heating or cooling, electricity passing through them, to transfer of gas, heat, cold, to supply or other services directly connected with them.
Thus, if a resident of Russia being a natural person and not an entrepreneur acquires services in Finland then the seller of the services must not increase the price by VAT of 24% of the value.
Can a legal entity obtain a return of VAT?
Yes, it can. The law secures the main provision of that VAT is an internal tax and is not collected or is subject to return to Finland’s non-residents. This provision is expanded in section 15 of the law («Return of tax to some foreign entrepreneurs»). In mutual co-ordination with provisions of paragraph 122 of the law the meaning of the indicated section lies in equalisation of the legal status of a natural person and a non-resident entrepreneur (organisation).
Paragraphs 150-156 define the concept of a foreign entrepreneur (organisation) and establish the order and term of return to such subjects of law of VAT paid in Finland.
An entrepreneur having no residence on the territory of the Union or no constant place where he performs entrepreneur activity is understood an entrepreneur situated outside the EU.
What should you know about an application for return of VAT?
An application for return should include a period of time of not less than three successive months in the current year and not more than one calendar year. It may be presented for a period of less than three months if it concerns the last months of a calendar year.
An application should be presented within six calendar months from the moment of the termination of the calendar year to which the period of time indicated in the application refers.
Where should an application be presented to?
Paragraph 151 of the law establishes that an application for return should be presented to Finland’s tax administration on a form of the standard pattern filled in in Finnish, Swedish or English.
The following should be annexed to an application:
1. the original of the bill or a similar document from the seller or a decision of a custom body with corresponding annexes;
2. a certificate of activity of the applicant as an entrepreneur from the tax body at the place where the applicant is situated;
3. other documents necessary for making a decision of return.
Return of money resources is effected to the applicant’s account in Finland or, by the applicant’s request, to a bank account in another state of the EU.
What limitations exist on return of VAT?
If within a year only one demand for return is presented then the minimal amount of return is EUR 50, if several – then EUR 400.
We should mention also that according to paragraph 154 an amount of payment may be decreased in connection with the applicant’s presenting false information.
The law does not determine an exact term of considering an application but Finland’s tax department points out that considering an application may take up to 8 months.
What happens in practice?
In practice, while in the course of acquiring goods in Finland by Russia’s residents the situation is regulated well enough, namely, return of VAT on the frontier is organised properly and Finnish companies-sellers take a price from a Russian buyer (organisation or an entrepreneur) without VAT, the situation with services is completely different.
When turning to Finnish companies or in the course of co-operation with Finnish entrepreneurs Russian natural persons usually are taxed with VAT in the full volume of 24% (in other words, prices of services for Russians are raised by Finns by 24%).
In the event of a violation of the law by a Finnish company of entrepreneur, irrespective of whether it is done because of ignorance of their own law or knowingly, we recommend to demand that the Finnish company returns the VAT illegally charged to the buyer. If they refuse to return VAT then you should turn to the court (although it will take much time to examine the case in its essence) and demand the return of not only the VAT but also the interest and court expenses. A VAT obtained from a Russian buyer is an ungrounded enrichment irrespective of whether the recipient of the VAT – a Finnish company – has paid it to the Finnish budget or not.
In respect of return of VAT from the budget to a Russian company or entrepreneur the main difficulty is the availability of an account in Finland. Preparation of documents, filling in an application for return and other formalities are somewhat difficult but if one knows the Finnish language then the difficulties will not, probably, be too serious.
On the site of the company «DCO» the material of the article is set forth with abridgements.
Section “Business”, 26th March, 2014.
Business in Finland: nine standard mistakes
Most Russians beginning their work in Finland make the same mistakes.
Finland is really interested in attracting Russian investors; for example, here in every region there are centres of economic development helping own investors and foreign ones including those from Russia. Usually support on the state level is rendered till the moment of opening and starting activity of a company in Finland. Here there is a real opportunity to obtain crediting, privileges or state financial support.
But even in these relatively greenhouse conditions Russians face problems that are often consequences of standard mistakes.
Advocate Vasily Davydov, a specialist working on the meeting-point of the Russian and Finnish legal systems, has told «Fontanka.fi» about the most common ones. Having advised Russian clients for many years he notices that a lot of them make the same typical mistakes.
- Mistake one: counting on that there is no bureaucracy in Finland
Do not expect that everything will be ideal here. Here business may face bureaucracy, red tape, incomprehension, too. Obtaining credit, state support, privileges – all this requires a lot of documents and positive results happen far from always.
- Mistake two: expecting a fair appraisal by Finns of your ideas and projects
Finns will never tell you of your mistakes and faults.
- Mistake three: trying to get at once feedback from potential Finnish partners.
Your requests, proposals sent to Finns after conferences, meetings, discussions will not, as a rule, result in responses except for cases of direct economic interest of a Finnish party.
- Mistake four: not learning the language
Quite a lot of problems arise in connection of the lack of the language knowledge. If you have made the decision to work in Finland you should know the language of this country, otherwise, sooner or later you will face problems.
- Mistake five: choosing not a native Finn as an agent
In business practice with foreigners Finns have agents. Such a Finnish partner performs some non-official representative function, his participation gives you an opportunity to achieve a practical result in the course of negotiations with Finns, and it is very desirable that the agent is a real ethnic, native Finn.
- Mistake six: trusting emigrants too much
Almost all problems our lawyers have to deal with are connected with participation of emigrants from countries of the former USSR and, later, Russia. Being far from Russia, from an employer is a situation tempting to deception. Such temptation is weaker for native Finns: they are afraid of spoiling their reputation.
- Mistake seven: relaxing
Finnish honesty remained intact till the 90-ies of the past century. Cheaters exist everywhere including Finland, and there they are many, too.
- Mistake eight: counting on an unbiased Finnish court
A Finnish court will rather be on a Finn’s side. Besides, take into account that a case will be under consideration for years and a Finnish barrister will cost very much. Try to settle a dispute outside Finland, for example, in Estonia.
- Mistake nine, the last one: nor preparing an escape route
Before the final decision of entering Finland think of what you will do if your project in this country is not successful. Keep resources including finances for withdrawal and closing the project.
The material of the article is set forth in brief.
Newspaper «Business Petersburg»
№158 (2724) of 26.08.2008
During his short interview to reporters of the newspaper «Business Petersburg» before the recognition by the Russian Federation of Southern Osetia as an independent state, the partner of the Office attorney Vasily Davydov explained legal particularities of this procedure.
The Russian Federation’s position is the starting point
In order to establish diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and a new state the president should produce the decree. Russia’s recognition of independence of Abkhazia and Southern Osetia, if it happens, will be a serious juridical fact for the whole world community. It will become a precondition for recognition of independence by other states of the world. The point is that Russia is the successor of the USSR and in the international law its opinion about the appearance on the territory of the former Soviet Union of the two new states will be basic. Until now our country was silent, and exactly this gave cause for disputes. The Russian Federation’s clear position will be the starting point for the appearance on the world’s map of these states.
17:25 Helsinki time Thursday 27.9.2007
INTERNATIONAL EDITION — FOREIGN
Elderly Finnish man seeks return of family property in Vyborg
Karelia being given back in court process
A Finnish citizen has filed a suit in a Russian court demanding back a family property in the centre of Vyborg, now in Russian Karelia. This property is a plot of land which the man’s father owned when the Soviet-Finnish Winter War began in 1939. A Russian bomb destroyed the building on the plot, and today there is a playground for children on the site. Monday was the second day of the court proceedings, and most of the time was used for formalities. For example, it is unclear whether the defendant should be the City of Vyborg or the regional administration.
Attorney Kari Silvennoinen advertised last year in Finnish newspapers, looking for former landowners and their descendants, who are now potential landowners in the former Finnish territory of Karelia, annexed by the Soviet Union after World War Two.
In Silvennoinen’s view, the border changes of states do not affect private land ownership, and last year he took the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. The Court stated that it cannot give a verdict on the case, as it had not been handled in a Russian court.
According to Silvennoinen, who is himself a staunch advocate of the return of the ceded areas of Karelia, the case will set a precedent, and the proceedings are expected to take a long time. The court will reconvene at the end of October. However, many Finnish lawyers doubt the success of the test case, though Silvennoinen himself is ready to file further similar lawsuits.
The Finnish Bar Association gave Silvennoinen a formal warning as a consequence of his seeking customers through newspaper advertisements. However, Silvennoinen has made an appeal against the warning to the Court of Appeal.Silvennoinen and his Russian colleagues intend to be persistent, and if the court decision is negative, they are ready to appeal to a higher court.