Orwellian Law is Dead

The Supreme Commercial Court of Russia has ruled that all charities are equal. Russian non-profit organizations do not have to pay income tax on donations from their foreign sponsors. Whether the money come from within the exclusive club of twelve organisations selected by the Russian government is irrelevant.

In 2006 – 2008, Human Rights Association "AGORA" received help from two American charities TIDES Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy. Russian tax authorities, as they often do, claimed that this money is a taxable income.

Indeed, according to article 251 section 1(14) of the Russian Tax Code contributions from foreign organisation are tax-exempt grants if the payer is included in a special list composed by the government. If there is a case about a direct link between taxation and civil liberties, this is it. Neither TIDES Foundation nor National Endowment for Democracy is on the list.

The Supreme Commercial Court cannot annul a law. However, it has ruled that the receipts are donations according to article 251 section 2(1) of the Tax Code and, therefore, are not