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Ukraine : COVID-19 virus related legal alert

Bertrand Barrier

I.QUARANTINE AND OTHER RESTRICTIVE MEASURES THROUGHOUT UKRAINE

Starting from 17 March 2020, Kyiv and other big Ukrainian cities introduced restrictions in connection with the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Almost all establishments are closed. Restaurants, including fast food restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping malls are also closed. Only grocery stores and supermarkets, gas stations, banks and ATMs are allowed to continue to operate.

Movement of people between the capital and other points within Ukraine is restricted. All cultural, sporting, social, religious and other mass events are banned. Starting from today, 18 March 2020, the subway has stopped in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro, while the number of people in one car of public transport was limited. People are officially allowed to work from home for the duration of the quarantine
introduced because of the coronavirus.

On 17 March 2020, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted draft law no. 3219 ‘Amending certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine with a view to Preventing Occurrence and Spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)’ (the ‘Law’). The Law sets forth the following restrictions for the duration of the quarantine and restrictive measure related to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Law was signed by the
President of Ukraine and is expected to be shortly published.

1. Force-majeure
The Law enables the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce to certify the occurrence of force-majeure in contracts with reference to the quarantine introduced by the Ukrainian government.

2. Vacations and working from home
For the duration of the quarantine or restrictive measures, employers may ask employees to work from home or to allow employees go on a vacation leave, if they so wish. Unpaid vacation leave taken during the quarantine will not be counted towards the maximum unpaid leave allowance established by the law.

3. Opening hours of businesses
Owners of companies may change their opening hours for accepting visitors and providing services. Information about such changes must be communicated to individuals through websites and through other communication channels.

4. Foreigners
A ban upon cancelation of a certificate of registration of an internally displace person will be put in place (for the duration of the quarantine and 30 days after its abolishment); a ban upon imposition of administrative sanctions against foreigners and stateless persons who were not able to leave Ukraine or file a request with the offices of the State Migration Service for the extension of their permitted stay in
Ukraine in connection with the quarantine.

5. State supervision and administrative services
For the duration of the quarantine (restrictive measures), governmental authorities are prohibited from carrying out scheduled measures with regard to state control (supervision) over commercial activities.
Deadlines for rendering of administrative and other services are suspended.

6. Unemployed persons
The Cabinet of Ministers is instructed to adopt resolutions and to draft laws designed to register people who are looking for work from the first day when they filed an application and to pay unemployment benefits to them from day one.

7. Taxes and duties
Importation into Ukraine of medicines, medical appliances and equipment required for prevention, containment and liquidation of the coronavirus are exempted from payment of VAT. The Customs Code provides for their exemption from import duty and fast-track customs clearance. These rules will remain in effect for three months.

8. Public procurement
The procurement of goods, works or services required for the prevention, containment or liquidation of outbreaks, epidemics or pandemics of the coronavirus is temporarily exempted from the public rocurement tender formalities. Such goods, works or services will be detailed by the Cabinet of inisters. The purchaser will be required to publish a report about executed contracts, the procurement contract and all annexes thereto, the report on implementation of the contract in the electronic procurement system as required by the law.

9. Responsibility
Administrative responsibility: any violation of rules with respect to the quarantine of people, sanitary, hygienic and anti-epidemic rules established by the laws or decisions of local authorities will be unished by a fine of between 17 and up to 34 thousand hryvnias, while officials will face a fine of between 24 and up to 170 thousand hryvnias.

Criminal responsibility: a fine for a violation of rules established with a view to preventing epidemic and other infectious diseases if they caused or could have knowingly cased the spread of such diseases mounts to from 17 up to 51 thousand hryvnias. Alternatively, the person may face imprisonment for up o 3 years.

II.GOVERNMENT'S STEPS TO SUPPORT BUSINESSES

On 17 March 2020, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted draft law no. 3220 ‘Amending the Tax Code of Ukraine and other Laws of Ukraine with a view to Supporting Tax Payers for the Duration of the Measures Implemented to Prevent the Occurrence and Spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)’ (the ‘Law’). The Law was signed by the President of Ukraine and is expected to be shortly published.

The Law introduces the following changes to the Tax Code of Ukraine:

1. Suspension of application of penalties for late payments of taxes
No penalties will be applied for violations of the tax laws during the period from 1 March through 31 May 2020, apart from the penalties for:
– violation of requirements to long-term life insurance contracts or insurance contracts executed as part of private pensions programmes;
– sale of assets held as a tax lien without consent of the controlling body;
– violation of the rules of accounting, production and circulation of fuel or ethyl spirit at excise arehouse, used on the general grounds;
– violations of calculation, declaration and payment of the value added tax, excise tax and rental payments.

During the period from 1 March through 31 May 2020, tax payers are not charged a penalty, while accessed penalties for this period that have not ben paid will be written off.

2. Moratorium on tax audits
A moratorium was introduced for documentary and onsite audits for the period from 18 March through 31 May 2020. Documentary and onsite audits which were commenced prior to 18 March 2020 and have not been completed, will be temporarily suspended until 31 May 2020.

3. Suspension of statutory limitation periods

The Law envisages that statutes of limitation are suspended for the period from 18 March through 31 May 2020.

4. Real estate tax
Among above mentioned changes, the land charges (land tax and rental fee for state and municipally owned land plots) for land owned or used by individuals or legal entities in their commercial activities are not accrued and will not be paid from 1 March through 30 April.

Non-residential real estate owned by individuals and legal entities will not be subject to real estate taxes from March 1 through 30 April 2020.

5. Unified social charge
Starting from 1 March through 30 April 2020:
– all private entrepreneurs and those engaged in independent professional activities will not be subject to the unified social charge;
– penalties and fines for overdue or insufficient payment of the unified social charge will be waived, the same will apply for over submission of the accompanying reports.

6. Wealth and personal income return declarations
The deadline for filing of the wealth and income return was extended until 1 July 2020.

7. Cash registries’ reform postponed
The mandatory introduction of cash registries was postponed by 3 months for all categories of usinesses working on the simplified tax regime.