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The September issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine contained an interview with a Law Firm Marketing expert who was leaving the profession, and who explained that “I became very frustrated. Working with the lawyers was difficult, while trying to maintain my dignity.” She also said that “I’m afraid I discovered that many of them are simply not very nice persons. And I’m afraid that non-fee earners are not persons that are much loved at law firms.” She said, “with more support I would have been happier, obviously,” and that “I didn’t feel I was receiving any real respect for the amount of work I was putting in.”

While 2017 was characterized by various fiscal changes, experiments, and abandoned proposals, the tax landscape at the end of 2018 underpins the competitive edge of Romania in the region. Still, there are reasonable threats with regard to the predictability of the tax system, considering the current macroeconomic trends and the budgetary constraints faced by the Romanian government.

The pharmaceutical market is one of the fastest growing markets in Russia, and despite external and internal issues, it is set to grow even further. Foreign pharma companies are expanding into Russia and quite often, at the initial stage, they do not have subsidiaries but are mostly focused on marketing and promotional activities through representative offices. They should, however, consider the approach of the Russian tax authorities in taxing foreign representative offices (ROs) and consider alternative distribution arrangements.

The beginning of 2019 will mark the start of a major transformation of the Serbian tax system, bringing new and exciting opportunities for companies who do business or wish to invest in Serbia, but also bringing potential challenges concerning the practical application of new tax rules.

In 2019, the Lithuanian tax system will see significant changes, designed to reform personal taxation laws and tackle the shadow economy. These amendments have already been approved by the Lithuanian Parliament and will become effective at the start of the year.

The 2019 Hungarian tax law changes, among other measures, have introduced a new group taxation regime and reflect the implementation of the provisions set out in the European Union’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD). 

With the world becoming increasingly globalized, it is easier for taxpayers to make, hold, and manage investments outside their countries of residence. Vast amounts of money are kept offshore and untaxed, to the extent that taxpayers fail to comply with the tax duties of their home jurisdictions. Co-operation among tax authorities is critical in the fight against tax evasion.

In its December session the Slovak parliament will decide whether to adopt a sectoral tax in the form of a 2.5% levy on net quarterly turnover of retail chains (the “retail chains levy”). The official purpose of the bill under consideration is to reach the strategic goal of food self-sufficiency, to finance the creation of mechanisms supporting Slovakia’s agricultural production and food industry, and to weaken the allegedly dominant position of large retail chains as regards their profits. The annual yield of the new tax is estimated at approximately EUR 150 million – a figure on which the Ministry of Finance relied in calculating its state budget for 2019.

Pursuant to an amendment to the Turkish Value Added Tax Law at the beginning of 2018, non-resident electronic service suppliers are now liable for Value Added Tax on services provided electronically to Turkish individuals who are not VAT taxpayers.

As in almost all other jurisdictions, in Slovenia there are no cryptocurrency-specific tax laws. In order to shed light on the tax treatment of the cryptocurrency in Slovenia, in June 2018 the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia (FURS) issued the extended and updated Guidelines on Tax Treatment of Cryptocurrencies in Slovenia (the “Guidelines”).

A specific form of cooperation was introduced in Austria in 2018 and will become effective on January 1, 2019: Upon the taxpayer’s request, an enterprise may opt for a “horizontal monitoring” procedure. This new law was introduced after a pilot project in which internationally renowned enterprises such as Red Bull, Shell Austria, and Infineon Technologies participated (although whether these enterprises will also participate in the new “horizontal monitoring” procedure is not yet known).

Joerg Menzer is a German citizen based in Bucharest, where he coordinates Noerr’s CEE practice for international clients. He specializes in M&A transactions and concentrates on structuring major foreign investments and business expansion projects in CEE.

The Deal:  In July 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that Reff & Associates had advised Dutch shipbuilding group Damen on its take-over of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd.’s participation in Romania’s Daewoo Mangalia shipyard. DSME was advised by CMS. The yard, which was renamed the Damen Shipyards Mangalia, is now operated as a joint venture with the Romanian Government, with Damen assuming operational control. We reached out to both firms for more information.

In the context of the ever-changing labor market general framework, in 2018 Romania took decisive steps to align its legislation with the country’s economic landscape.

The Vouchers Directive, which regulates the VAT treatment of vouchers across the EU Member States, was agreed upon by the Council of the EU in 2016, and caught the attention of Romanian authorities, tax advisors, and businesses at the end of 2017. Together with other Member States, Romania must design and enforce an appropriate legal framework to ensure the application of the Directive starting in 2019.

This year marks Maravela | Asociatii’s fifth anniversary. To mark the occasion, we sat down with Maravela | Asociatii Partner Alina Popescu to learn more about the challenges the firm has overcome in its first five years, its successes, and its plans for the future.

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