New VAT law to affect business environment

  • 2001-06-21
  • BNS
TALLINN - The new value-added tax law Estonian legislators passed June 13 contains a provision allowing travelers to bring in goods worth 5,000 kroons ($273) tax-free.

The original bill set the ceiling of tax-free imports at 2,700 kroons.

The change was part of a thorough revision of the value-added tax law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2002,

The new law establishes an overall value-added tax rate of 18 percent, the same as the old law, but contains a detailed list of items that will be levied a smaller tax or no tax at all.

A tax of 5 percent will be levied on books, medicine on a government-endorsed list, medical equipment and pest control items imported by state or local government, a social or health institution which is registered with the health authorities.

The 5 percent rate is also applicable to performances and concerts staged by state, municipal and privately-owned institutions, provided the organizer has no tax debts in the current calendar year.

The 5 percent tax will be in force until July 1, 2005 also on thermal energy equipment, peat, peat briquettes, and coal and firewood sold to households.

No tax will be applied to exported goods and services, ocean-going vessels and aircraft used for international services, electrical power generated by wind and water, subscribed periodical publications and school textbooks.

The 18 percent tax rate will be applicable to wind-generated and hydroelectric power from Jan. 1, 2007. Upon Estonia's accession to the European Union, a tax of 5 percent will be applied to subscribed periodicals and textbooks.

Tax exemption will apply to exports replacing similar goods returned to Estonia after exporting and to the export of goods imported tax free.

Under the new law, the import of services will be taxed, which some business people estimate could raise costs by up to 20 percent.

The government presented the revised value-added tax legislation to the Parliament in early March.