Primary tasks

State Tax Service of Azerbaijan supports individuals and businesses during the world pandemic

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Extension of deadlines

An extension of the deadline for submitting tax returns and making tax payments of microenterprise entities has been granted. An extension has been granted to the payment deadline in respect of property and/or profit (income) tax for the 2019 financial period.

 

Deferral of payments

Temporary suspension of current tax payments in respect of areas of activities for which incentives will be provided.

 

Debt payment plans and suspending debt recovery

Sectors affected by the pandemic (industry, trade, services, transport, etc.) will receive the following benefits from the state budget:

- Granting temporary simplified tax benefits for microenterprises;

- Temporary exemptions from property and land taxes;

- Introducing temporary profit (income) tax incentives for taxpayers;

- Reduction of the simplified tax rate for those engaged in catering activities;

- Granting temporary waiver in respect of current tax payments in the areas eligible for tax incentives;

- Temporary exemption from VAT of certain food and medical products necessary for needs of the population (VAT exemption on import and sale of some products);

- In order to meet the demand of population for food, medicine and other necessary products in a short period, raw materials and supplies related to the production thereof are exempted from VAT;

- Deduction of donations made by individuals and legal entities to the Fund to Support Fight Against Coronavirus from income.

 

Enhanced services and communication initiatives

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and taking into account the recommendations of the Special Task Force, restrictions were imposed on the customer facing structural units of STS, namely taxpayer service centres and Call Centre. Nevertheless, the e-mail addresses and telephone numbers were promptly made available on official web-site and social media accounts, so that taxpayers can reach the employees operationally. Moreover, the necessary IT infrastructure was provided to enable Call Centre staff to access the internal online system remotely. In order to assess the impact of the pandemic on the economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the necessary work is underway to identify the most affected taxpayers, including vulnerable taxpayers. The Media and Communication Department, through the STS official web-site and social media accounts, regularly posts updated contact information of the staff of taxpayer services centres and Call Centre.

Media and Communication Department has posted several awareness raising videos and information on the official website and social media accounts. Furthermore, in order to increase awareness about COVID-19, banners, booklets and flyers reflecting the relevant recommendations of the International Health Organization and the Special Task Force are widely used throughout all buildings of STS.

 

General measures

According to the Executive Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, macroeconomic stability, employment and entrepreneurship, several programs have been developed in order to ensure the delivery of state support to various areas of economy, including entrepreneurship. The mentioned programs include financial support, tax incentives, benefits and holidays, credit guarantee program to support bank loans for entrepreneurs operating in areas affected by the pandemic, utility payments support for electricity consumption of population, social package to support the financial situation of the population, tuition support for students who are members of socially vulnerable families, financial support for mortgage and credit guarantee mechanism.

Moreover, the validity period of ASAN Signature (mobile e-signature) certificates owned by individuals and  heads of legal entities has been extended. At the same time, taxpayers have been notified of the extension of the ASAN Signature Certificates issued to other persons on the basis of a power of attorney, and the extension of the certificates will take effect upon their consent.

 

Business Continuity Measures

Governance arrangements

The State Tax Service’s responses align the public health and safety measures and strategies of the Special Task Force established by the Government. In February, having benefited from the general guidelines prepared by the Task Force, STS drafted a set of STS staff-specific recommendations which were circulated by internal online information system to all structural units. Arrangements were made to ensure that staff of STS are fully informed and self-isolate if they develop symptoms. This being said, STS has undertaken significant communication and education on COVID-19 to inform staff, to help them make informed decisions and to enable them to take action to protect their and their family’s health.

Furthermore, according to the Order issued by the STS senior management in March, a special internal Task Team was established and the Roadmap was prepared. The Roadmap includes due dates of actions to be made by STS in order to maintain the safety of staff and imposes reporting liabilities to all respective departments in line with the determined deadlines. It was distributed via internal online system to all STS departments.  Consequently, in addition to ad hoc information requests, the Head of Task Team reports to the Minister of Economy on a monthly basis about the work undertaken according to the Action Plan.

 

Scenario planning

Since the Roadmap is widely based on recommendations made by the Special Task Force, it is aligned with Government scenario planning. In anticipation of a number of staff that might become unavailable due to sickness or other restrictions (household isolation, caring responsibilities, and mature colleagues), the Administration introduced shift-based working regime in respect of the staff. In another move, all necessary technical measures (IT software) have been taken for setting up appropriate conditions for the staff working remotely, especially for those who are engaged in taxpayers’ services centres and Call Centre. 

 

Identification of critical and non-critical activities

According to the Executive Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, macroeconomic stability, employment and entrepreneurship, several programs have been developed in order to ensure the delivery of state support to various areas of economy, including entrepreneurship. The mentioned programs include financial support, tax incentives, benefits and holidays, credit guarantee program to support bank loans for entrepreneurs operating in areas affected by the pandemic, utility payments support for electricity consumption of population, social package to support the financial situation of the population, tuition support for students who are members of socially vulnerable families, financial support for mortgage and credit guarantee mechanism.

Continuity of fulfilment of core functions pertaining to the tax administration at a time of great challenge is essential. Thus, this is one of the identified critical activities. Arrangements have been made in order to maintain the operational activity. For instance, necessary IT infrastructure was provided, so that remote workforce of Call Centre and other structural units working with taxpayers can access internal online system from home. 

 

Understanding critical vulnerabilities

According to the mentioned Roadmap, 25 % of STS staff is entitled to be present at office. The office and remote workforce rotate among themselves. In order to reduce face to face interaction, indoor and outdoor meetings with taxpayers, including targeted services, tax inspections and tax control measures have been mostly switched to remote (phone, email, etc.) regime. Necessary IT infrastructure is in place in order to support staff in fulfilment of their working responsibilities. Staff whose age is 60 and above and female employees with minor children (up to 7 years old) have been granted privilege of working part-time or remotely. 

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the beginning of the business day has been shifted to a flexible regime ranging between 08.30 and 09.45 across all structural units and departments to avoid congestion at the entrances of the office buildings. The Task Team closely monitors the working schedule. As part of heightened precautions, instalment of advanced technologies like thermal screening products for measuring temperature have also been implemented. At the entrance of all STS buildings the temperature of employees is being measured before entering the premises.

 

Staff and taxpayer safety

1. Since cleanliness and hygiene provisions should be at the forefront of precautionary measures, the buildings of STS and structural units are fumigated and regularly sanitized, shared equipment such as keyboards, phones are deep cleaned on a daily basis.

2. Close contact (handshakes, hugs) of employees is prohibited.

3. The number of disinfection dispensers installed in the buildings of STS were increased, also employees must disinfect their hands before entering the premises.

4. In order to increase awareness about COVID-19, banners, booklets and flyers reflecting the relevant recommendations of the International Health Organization and the Special Task Force are widely used throughout the premises of STS.

5. Trips of employees abroad have been suspended.

6. Citizens' applications are dealt with and services are provided only by e-mail and telephone.

7. Rotational working schedules are organized for the purpose of minimizing contacts of employees.

 

Remote working

1. Remote work and reduced working hours are applied to employees over 60 years old and women with minor children (up to 7 years old).

2. Meetings, conferences and gatherings are held via video conferencing, telephone (selector), WhatsApp, mobile and internet communication, personal meetings in work rooms are minimized.

3. In the office rooms, the social distance between employees is identified to be minimum of 2 meters.

4. Permission is granted to use the internal online system at home, facilitating work from home.

5. Employees and managers who have their private vehicles are given priority over non-vehicled staff upon enlisting the staff for office work with the rest of employees placed at home work regime.

6. 25 % of employees are working from office on a rotational basis. The remaining workforce is working remotely from home office.

7. Remote workers are discouraged to leave their living premises during working hours, as this period is regarded as normal workday by default.

 

Contact arrangements

Where an employee is diagnosed with coronavirus symptoms, the health of those with whom he/she has been in close contact over the past week is monitored.

 

Communicating

Citizens are regularly informed about the measures taken. Several informational and awareness raising videos were prepared and posted on the official website and social media accounts.

 

Training and redeployment

All classroom trainings have been cancelled and e-learning has been introduced as much as possible.

 

Recruitment and Retention

All appointments, transfers and assignments were cancelled, except in special cases.  Recruitment to the state tax authorities has been postponed for an indefinite period.

 


 

In case you have any document of information which you find worth to share regarding the actions, measures or concrete experiences in countering the crisis, please do not hesitate to upload it to the subpage focusing on Covid-19 Crisis Support on IOTA website in order to share it with other members.