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Tax Law Definition
Typically, tax law practices provide the following services:
• Tax consulting;
• Protection of taxpayers’ interests in connection with tax audits;
• Representation in court.
Special mention should be made of comprehensive services that can include all or part of the above:
• Tax check-up (identification of tax risks);
• Identification of tax overpayment;
• Tax planning (incl. involving foreign companies).
Recent years have seen development of services associated with the transfer pricing (TP) and CFC legislation compliance in Russia.
Tax consulting. The Russian tax legislation is remarkably voluminous and is constantly changing, therefore taxpayers need frequent advice and counselling (written, oral, via seminars). Either hourly or fixed rates are charged for such services. It is not only the lawyer’s tax experience, which matters greatly when choosing a consultant, but also the experience in the dedicated industry of the client, since every industry has its specific features.
Services of taxpayer protection and representation in court are the most expensive. Any payment arrangement – fixed or hourly rate, success fees – is valid here and many clients prefer a success-fee approach. However, Russia has no legal framework that addresses the issue and lawyers offering success fee arrangements to their clients run the risk of having their fees reduced.
Overpayment identification service is provided by experienced tax lawyers only. The service often consists of formulating a new interpretation of the tax law to enable the taxpayer to revise its past tax liabilities. Validity of the new interpretation very often has to be proved in court. Large companies have tens of millions US Dollars paid in excessive taxes.
TP. The Russian authorities have been using rather complicated rules to control transfer pricing (TP) since 2012. The new rules apply, in the first place, to large companies involved in cross-border transactions. This created a whole class of services. A significant part of such services are rendered not by law firms, but large audit companies (BIG 4, above all others). The number of litigations has been rising in this sphere lately. This is where the lawyers’ services are preferable to the auditors’.
The CFC norms were implemented in the Russian law in 2015. The said rules apply to large companies that have subsidiaries located beyond the Russian jurisdiction, but controlled by Russian resident companies. Consulting services are normally considered to be a separate sphere since not all tax law firms have thorough knowledge of the matter. That relates to the fact that international tax planning services in Russia traditionally were rendered by dedicated law firms. However, there are firms equally proficient in the national, as well as the international taxation issues. Auditor companies, apart from law firms, are also active in providing tax law services in Russia.
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