Tax agents in Russia handling payments on VAT-liable exports are now liable for any Value Added Tax due.
The new interpretation of the Russian Tax Code is made on payments to foreign businesses for transactions subject to Russian VAT. This includes entities without any presence in Russia. If no withholding tax payment is in place, then the tax agent becomes liable for the VAT. Previously, the tax agent could only be held liable for any interests or penalties on late payments. This is similar to the European VAT fiscal representative, whereby the agent becomes jointly liable to any VAT liability.
This re-interpretation was initially issued in 2012, but has only just been enacted by the Supreme Court of Arbitration.
Russian VAT is similar in operation to the EU VAT Directive, although there is limited scope for exemptions on exports.