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Excess Bureaucracy Stimulates The Shadow Economy

Reducing income tax obligations and establishing transparent and predictable fee collection policies through a public electronic register of non-fiscal charges are key priorities of the Grey Book and the entire economy

Ever since the black market for salt in ancient China, states have been trying to solve the problem of illegal trade. But it is clear that this economic anomaly, as old as the first taxes, can hardly be completely eradicated. There are however always ways to work together to drastically reduce the scale and damage that this illegal activity leaves on any market that strives for equal conditions for all.

One of the key priorities of the Alliance for Fair Competition has for years been cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, the Tax Administration and other institutions to carry out the National Program for the Suppression of the Grey Economy.

It should be no surprise that half of the priority recommendations of the Grey Book 13 are directly linked to the measures of this strategic document. Every step towards simplifying procedures is a small victory against the shadow economy because excessive administrative procedures inevitably force citizens and companies to cut corners, encouraging illegal business practices.

Reducing income tax obligations and establishing transparent and predictable fee collection policies through a public electronic register of non-fiscal charges are key priorities of the Grey Book and the entire economy.

The Fair Competition Alliance is among the oldest alliances in NALED. It is the first example of institutionalised publicprivate dialogue through the Government’s expert group on the shadow economy. The Alliance’s work has been crowned with some great developments in carrying out the National Programme, including flat tax reform, a simplified system for registering seasonal workers, a tax exemption system for new businesses, the eInspector system, the national fiscal lottery ‘Take the receipt and win!’, and several others.

Besides offering financial relief for businesses to stimulate their operations, we have a big task ahead in combating undeclared work. The Grey Book recognises the need to focus on regulating flexible work forms, especially for online work for foreign employers as Serbia is among the world leaders in gig workers, and on expanding simplified employment procedures for workers in seasonal and temporary jobs, following the example of a successfully implemented reform in hiring seasonal agricultural workers.

The first recommendation of the new edition is to finish this year’s preparations for the 2022 start of digital fiscalization and the system of electronic invoices, which we have been working on in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. Furthermore, to continue improving transaction transparency, we must work towards cashless payments, primarily by card payment or instant payment of charges without proof of payment in paper form.

As this year’s tax exemption for start-ups is focused exclusively on companies with innovative activities, the Grey Book suggests extending it to all sole traders and other types of businesses to help everyone start their own business legally. Besides, there are also anti-bureaucratic recommendations, such as a unified system for collecting payments from flat-rate traders and uniform tax solutions.