By Otabek Makhkamov (Senior Scholar-researcher of the Criminal Law and Criminology Department, Tashkent State University of Law)
After independence, the Republic of Uzbekistan implemented deep economic and political reforms. These reforms have also covered the tax system, which ensures the receipt of taxes and other compulsory payments. Protection of social relations in the tax sphere is of great importance in ensuring the normal functioning of social protection system in the country, economic security and sovereignty of any modern state.
The Civil Code (1996), Land Code (1998), Tax Code (new version adopted in 2008), Budget Code (2014) and Customs Code (1998), the Laws “On Denationalization and Privatization” (1991), “On Banks and Banking Activity”) (1996), “On Foreign Investments” (1998), “On Guarantees for the Rights of Foreign Investors and Measures for Their Protection” (1998) can be mentioned among the important laws and statutory documents aimed at regulation of social relations in this sphere.
Adopted laws and other resolutions have been assisting in intensitification of the national economy’s transition to the market relations and drastic reforming of the tax system.
Article 51 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan provides for the citizens’ obligation to pay the taxes and local dues established by the law.
Failure of legal entities and individuals to pay the taxes and other compulsory payments set by the state, deliberate non-disclosure and/or understatement of profit (revenue) or taxable objects, as well as evasion of taxes and other compulsory payments cause damage to sustainability of the budget policy. Use of funds subject to payment and receipt by the budget against the interests of the society further increases the social threat of the violations and crimes committed in the tax sphere.
Adoption of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 1994 raised the evolution of norms of criminal laws establishing the liability for evading the payment of taxes and other compulsory payments to a new stage. The legislator had analyzed the enforcement practice and critically revised the descriptions of respective norms of the criminal legislation. Thus, a separate norm, which establishes a liability for evading the payment of taxes and other compulsory payments (Article 184) had been introduced. According to the first part of this article, deliberate nondisclosure and/or understatement of profit (revenue) or other taxable objects, as well as deliberate evading the payment of taxes and other compulsory payments set by the state, provided that unpaid amount comprise a substantial sum, shall be penalized by a penalty in double amount of minimum wage or correctional works for up to two years or imprisonment of up to six months with or without confiscation of property.
According to the second part of Article 184, should such deed be committed: a) repeatedly; b) in substantial amounts, then a penalty in amount of fifty to seventy-five minimum wages or correctional works for two to three years or imprisonment of up to three years with or without confiscation of property is provided for.
According to the third part of said article, should such deeds be committed in very large amounts, then a penalty in amount of seventy-five to one hundred minimum wages or imprisonment of three to five years with or without confiscation of propery is provided for.
Adoption of the Law “On Introduction of Amendments and Addenda to the Criminal, Criminal and Procedural and Administrative Liability Codes of the Republic of Uzbekistan due to Liberalization of Criminal Penalties” acquired a great socio-political importance.
According to this law, the type of penalty in form of confiscation of property, which absolutely contradicts the principles of humanism, was eliminated from the criminal punishment system.
In addition, provisions on non-application of punishment in form of imprisonment in case of recovery of caused damages were introduced to the Article 11 of the Criminal Code”.
These reforms have also had a direct positive impact on the Article 184 of the Criminal Code. Adoption of said Law have renewed the composition of norms, which establish a liability for evading the payment of taxes and other compulsory payments.
As a result of implemented reforms and adoption of the Law “On Introduction of Amendments and Addenda to the Criminal, Criminal and Procedural and Administrative Liability Codes of the Republic of Uzbekistan due to Liberalization of Criminal Penalties”, a norm establishing the administrative preclusion of issue was introduced to the first part of Article 184, and the words “such deeds” in the old version of the second and third part were amended to “evading the payment of taxes and other compulsory payments”. It implies that upon existence of any of aggravating circumstances provide for by the second and third part, then a person, who committed such deed is now subject directly to criminal liability. Should the former words “such deeds” be preserved in these ?parts, then such person would be subject to administrative liability for commitment of deed provided for by the second and third parts. In our opinion, amendment of the words “such deeds” in the second and third parts as a result of introduction of the administrative preclusion of issue in the Artcile 184is absolutely correct.
In addition, Article 184 was supplemented by the additional fourth part ? a stimulatory norm. As result, a provision of non-application of the punishment in form of imprisonment upon full payment of taxes and other compulsory payments under deliberately non-disclosed and/or understated profit (revenue), which is in compliance with principle of humanism, had been strengthened.
In addition to amendments and addenda analyzed above new amendments to the norms, which establish the liability for evading the payment of taxes and other compulsory payments, had been introduced.
Such amendment was introduced on December 31, 2008 due to adoption of the new version of the Tax Code (adopted on December 25, 2007 and effective from January 1, 2008).
Thus, the Tax Code has also acquired a new form. This, in turn, has led to the amendment of the norms of criminal law, namely to the amendment of the title of Article 184 of the Criminal Code to “Evading the Payment of Taxes and Other Compulsory Payments”.