Estonia's laws are simple, understandable and tax officials are very human, says Petteri Leinonen, the owner of Leinonen Estonia, that has been 20 years in international accounting and successfully weathering the Estonian market.
"The period of 20 years back was interesting - the Value Added Tax Act consisted of one page, most of the laws and rules were lacking or under completion, and, in the Tax Board, you could get three different answers to a single question," Leinonen remembers. "I liked the old days when each company had its own inspector, who knew what happened in the company, and understood when a long project was delayed. Unfortunately, present-day Estonia is following the example of Finland and the rest of Europe where the tax board is not interested in the content and concluding an agreement, but sends electronic reminders and notices of impending fines after the time has elapsed."
He emphasises, however, that, as for comprehensibility of laws, length of chapters and general tax system, we are in very good condition, compared to Finland. "In Finland even taxation law professionals often do not understand the laws, how could a company or citizen be able to understand them? Probably, Estonian laws remain more simple," he hopes, and adds that present-day Estonia has over 4,000 companies owned by Finns who mainly move here to enjoy the simple tax system, more favourable labour costs and more convenient administration. The same movement takes place from other countries.
Entering a foreign market, it is always wise to ask advice on the laws and taxation policy
Leinonen offers consultations and services to Estonian companies who are interested in entering foreign markets, be they north or south. Estonian companies have difficulties in other jurisdictions because of being unfamiliar with complex bureaucracy; acting on your own could very quickly lead to difficult situations. Leinonen says there is no point in managing the company with one hand and preparing accounts with the other; it is more costly, errors can easily occur, and related problems are already there. The 20 highly trained and experienced professionals in Leinonen's Tallinn office often have discussions about complicated situations - how then would it be possible for a single person in a single company to cope with them?
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