Actually, that’s a blatant lie, but whenever I do, I’ll add the caveat “but it could be worse. I could live in Russia.”
Taxes in Russia are actually quite low….legally. A flat tax of 13% sounds amazing at first, considering that Americans pay between 10-35%, depending on income, but all the trouble that comes with paying taxes in Russia makes it not so desireable.
One of our business forums featured a tax lawyer. There are many of them here, as the Tax Authorities of Russia are quite keen on collecting taxes from everyone by “any means necessary.” Quite often, those means are illegal. They will target random people and business and demand additional paperwork which they will “review” and determine that you actually haven’t paid any taxes or haven’t paid enough, and therefore must pay again. 99% of the time, according to the lawyer, they’re lying. But what can you do? Of course the lawyer says to fight them, but that costs money and usually drags on for 1-2 years. By the time you get a court to rule in your favor, you’ve spent more than what the authorities claimed you owed.
Not to mention, getting a refund is nearly impossible. In the US, the IRS actually takes decent care of us, as much as it pains anyone to admit it. I fill out my taxes every year and some years, like this past one for example, they noticed that I didn’t claim a certain exemption and am actually owed three hundred dollars more than I claimed. They tell me this in a notice with an enclosed check. Pretty nice. In Russia, however, according to the lawyer and our professors, refunds don’t exist. When the Tax Authorities are trying to collect money, they will find out everything about you. When they owe you money, nobody knows anything. They refer you to a website that only a tax lawyer could hope to understand. Interesting how that works…..