Good reason to open a foreign bank account
The litigation that is currently unfolding between the Federal Tax Service and Sberbank may be a significant precedent that will affect the entire banking sector in Russia. The FTS accuses Sberbank of dishonest behavior, which is expressed in the fact that the bank refused to perform the functions of the tax authorities and write off funds in paying taxes from the client’s account.
The decision of the court is now closely watched by many account holders in Russian banks. If the court takes the side of the FTS, it may mean that in the near future the requirement to write off taxes from the accounts will be mandatory for all banks. This means that accounts in Russian banks will become an even less secure and confidential way of storing funds.
Tax debts of entrepreneurs will be written off from personal accounts?
It all started when a tax debt in the amount of about 15 million rubles (taxes, fines and penalties) was additionally charged to one of the clients of Sberbank after the tax audit. The client had an entrepreneurial account, drawn up on the IP, which at that moment was going through a bankruptcy procedure. But in addition to the business account, there was also a personal account, on which more than 100 million rubles were in circulation.
According to the FTS, in this situation, Sberbank had to write off the tax debt of the individual entrepreneur from his personal account. Sberbank had a different opinion on this. And despite the fact that the bank wrote off the debt on a commercial loan from an entrepreneur from his personal account, he did not write off the tax debt, which caused dissatisfaction with the FTS, and later – going to court.
The official position of the Federal Tax Service – Sberbank acted in bad faith, hiding from tax information about the availability of a source from which the tax debt could be repaid.
Despite the fact that the courts of three instances sided with Sberbank, the Supreme Court overturned these decisions, sending the case for reconsideration. According to experts, now much will depend not only on the final decision, but also on its wording. It is fundamental that one or all accounts will be decided to suspend operations and withdraw funds.
The decision of the court will also depend on whether banks will have to inform the FTS in the future about the existence of other accounts with the client, as well as show their own initiative and block funds in the account in case of tax arrears. Accordingly, a decision may have a serious impact on both future and past disputes in this area.
The future of the banking sector: checks on all parameters
It is no secret that, in the wake of the global fight against tax evasion, new requirements are being put forward for banks and more responsibility is being placed on verifying potential customers and the source of their money. The possible consequences of working with questionable customers are so serious that it is in the interests of the bank to collect as much information as possible before even opening an account, and even more so to issue a loan.
For example, Sberbank intends to evaluate potential borrowers next year from psychometric models, including by analyzing profiles in social networks. Considering that profiles in social networks today are one of the most important sources of information about a person, banks simply cannot ignore the opportunity to find out and check the data of their client.
However, every time when it comes to collecting information, the inevitable question arises: to what extent is the collecting organization able to protect it from unauthorized access and distribution? But there is another question – what if the tax authorities want tomorrow to have unlimited access to the personal bank accounts of citizens? Will this desire be sanctioned by the government?
A precedent has already been created in Russia, the development of which will determine the security of bank accounts in the future.
Another reason to open a foreign bank account: the volume of confidential data leaks is rapidly increasing in Russia
Will a foreign bank account help solve these problems?
On the one hand, it is practically impossible to open an account in a foreign bank without providing detailed information about the client and the source of his money. On the other hand, the presence of a foreign account provides an additional level of protection of funds in the form of legal obstacles to obtaining information by a third party.
Of course, the automatic exchange of information has not been canceled, but the involvement of several parties in its collection, storage and transmission gives more likelihood that the whole process will occur in accordance with the law and the established rules. In addition, despite the deadlines for the start of the exchange, not all countries managed to conclude relevant bilateral agreements. And this is not to mention the fact that not all countries of the world agreed to participate in the automatic exchange of information – for example, the United States relies entirely on FATCA in terms of sharing information with the tax authorities of other countries.