Benefits are brought to restaurants

Facing a large-scale crisis due to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurateurs may receive additional support measures. In 2022, companies with revenues of no more than 2 billion rubles. per year it is planned to exempt from VAT, and structures with a staff of 1.5 thousand people will be allowed to pay a reduced rate of insurance premiums. Restaurateurs expect that the measures will affect more than 80% of enterprises in the industry and will whitewash the market.

President Vladimir Putin proposed launching in 2022 a pilot project to free public catering enterprises with revenues of no more than 2 billion rubles. per year from VAT. He stated this during the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 4. It is assumed that companies will also retain the right to pay a reduced rate of insurance premiums of 15%, even if the number of employees reaches 1.5 thousand people. Now only enterprises with a staff of no more than 250 people can count on this benefit. As Mr. Putin noted, this factor often forces business to go to “all sorts of tricks” like artificial fragmentation of business.

Restaurateurs began to actively lobby for a VAT cut for the industry amid the crisis due to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a market participant told Kommersant, the profitability of a typical catering establishment with a turnover of 150 million rubles. per annum is at the level of 7-8% per annum, which does not allow servicing bank loans, after the increase in VAT to 20%, the profitability of many players decreased by 6%, and for some – by 20%. According to the Moscow business ombudsman Tatyana Mineeva, in 2020 alone, due to the restrictions imposed, the revenue from the capital’s restaurateurs on average decreased by 45%.

Igor Bukharov, President of the Federation of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs of Russia, points out that more than 80% of Russian public catering enterprises have revenue of less than 2 billion rubles. per year, so the project will inevitably lead to a whitewash of the market.

As Mr. Bukharov reminds, today any enterprise in the industry with a turnover of more than 150 million rubles. per year belongs to a large business and is forced to pay tax at the appropriate rate. Meanwhile, the agricultural industry is already receiving benefits and produces products either without paying VAT, or at a 10% rate, and the 20% VAT paid by the restaurateur when buying these products is ultimately borne by the end consumer, he says. As a result, Igor Bukharov continues, in a crisis, restaurateurs have to save on food and reduce portions.

Business ombudsman of the Moscow restaurant market Sergey Mironov says that for 20 years restaurateurs have opened separate legal entities for each of their new points, and this was considered normal. But then, he continues, the tax authorities began to accuse such entrepreneurs of splitting up businesses and evading taxes. “The profitability of small and medium-sized business restaurateurs does not exceed 8% of turnover, if such an entrepreneur switches from a simplified taxation system to a general one, as required by the tax authorities, his expenses increase by 23%, which makes the entire business unprofitable”, – says Mr. Mironov. According to him, by combining establishments under one structure, restaurants will now be able to increase tax deductions, personal income tax, social and insurance contributions.

Nikita Shchurenkov, Anatoly Kostyrev, Khalil Aminov