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Ukraine crisis prompts calls for further extension to tax returns

The inland revenue offices in Nicosia (file photo)

Disregarding objections from the government, lawmakers on Monday decided to press ahead with two bills extending the deadline for companies and self-employed persons to submit their tax returns for 2020.

As it stands, the deadline for submitting tax returns for 2020 is end of March of this year. The proposed legislation aims to push this to end of July.

According to Diko MP Panicos Leonidou, who tabled the two bills, the aim is to facilitate companies facing problems due both to the coronavirus situation but also the current Ukraine crisis.

But Nayia Symeonidou, a senior official with the finance ministry said companies had already received an extension for filing their paperwork.

The 15 months afforded – beginning of 2021 to March 2022 – is one of the longest periods anywhere in Europe, she noted.

Also, most filings are done online, leaving little justification for not meeting the deadline.

Regarding the war in Ukraine – cited as a reason for the extension – Symeonidou dismissed that as a flimsy excuse as the war began only two weeks ago. The tax returns should have started being filed since the start of this year, she added.

The Tax Department also disagreed with another delay in filing. But responding to an MP’s question, a department official did acknowledge that the process could have opened earlier; for this year, the process started on December 1, 2021.

The extension proposal received backing from most stakeholders.

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants argued the move would make it easier for accountants to deal with Ukrainian and Russian clients. A rep for the institute said most Ukrainian and Russian clients (companies) were not responding to their requests due to the ongoing war.

Unless the filing deadline is extended, these companies would be fined the €100 penalty for non-compliance. This, the rep said, would adversely affect Cyprus’ image among clients from these countries.

Weighing in, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) likewise stated that many corporations face difficulties filing on time, due to the coronavirus situation – mandatory absence due to remote work requirements, absence from work due to illness or being a contact of a person testing positive.

In a letter to parliament, Keve general secretary Marios Tsiakkis also asked the finance ministry to take steps ensuring that companies are not penalised for late filings.

Following the discussion, Diko MP Chrysis Pantelidis said the two legislative proposals would go to the plenum for a vote as soon as possible.

 

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