Taxpayers confused over rulings

  • 2001-03-22
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - The March 31 deadline to submit personal tax returns for 2000 is looming, and a growing number of people are desperately tapping pocket calculators in the corridors of the revenue department while filling out forms.

Businesses face even more complicated tasks as they should present the results of their financial activities to the revenue department by the 15th day of each month.

According to the revenue department, 2.78 billion kroons ($163 million) of various taxes have already been paid since the beginning of this year.

The special seminar on tax issues arranged by the daily newspaper Aripaev gathered more than 500 accounting specialists from various companies. Tonis Jakob, from the tax division of the audit company Ernst and Young and a former official with the revenue department, said a person faces only two inevitable things in life Ð death and taxes.

"A businessperson should read thoroughly the legal acts on taxation before starting a business. After doing so, he or she should read it again and again," said Jakob.

Ernst and Young do work mostly with branches of foreign companies and foreign investors, according to Jakob.

"Our clients' attitude toward taxes is that they are ready to pay all the taxes required but not a single cent more," he said.

Jakob said that unfortunately sometimes tax inspectors think every person and company is involved in tax fraud.

"Some inspectors then try to find a mistake in the company audit by any means, and taking into account our imperfect laws it is not that hard to find them," said Jakob.

Hannes Udde from the revenue department said Jakob's opinion is based on the department's old employees, some of whom were indeed eager to collect taxes by whatever means necessary. But now, he said, the attitude is different.

The main problem, Jakob stressed, was the fact that the revenue department does not share any information regarding particular tax problems if the query comes from a consulting company and not from the taxpayer directly.

"The problem is that when people do not know how to compose a query to the revenue department correctly, they address us, the consultants, and the department refuses to give a thorough answer," said Jakob.

Udde admitted that the department tends to answer only those queries that come directly from taxpayers. He added the queries from the consultant companies are generally wordy and unspecified.

There are few sources of information in English regarding taxes in Estonia. The Web site of the Foreign Ministry ( is full of useful information from Estonian national cuisine to European Union membership and also offers general data on taxation in Estonia.

The revenue department's official Web site ( is the only place where all necessary forms are available (in PDF format) to print and download. Basic legal acts in English like the income tax law and value-added tax law can also be found there.

A foreign businessman can also get information about taxes from the online newsletter of the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia ( The Estonian business information gateway ( also includes reference data on taxation.

The home page of the Finance Ministry ( offers comprehensive coverage of Estonian taxation matters and is updated more often than those mentioned above.