It is unprofitable to distribute food with an expiring shelf life for free, since VAT must be paid for these products. Therefore, it would seem that a logical phenomenon, called foodsharing, cannot develop in our country. It is more profitable for large retail chains to dispose of products that have become unusable – then there is no need to pay value added tax. Andrey Ryabokon, a deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, proposes to rectify the situation and help retail chains to engage in charity work.
With limited turnover
Andriy Ryabokon has prepared a draft law on amending articles 170 and 171 of the second part of the Tax Code. He proposes to exempt the largest taxpayers from VAT on products that are donated to non-profit organizations. At the same time, the volume of such goods should not exceed five percent of the total volume sold in one tax period.
Behind the dry words of the bill lies a mechanism that, according to the deputy, will help launch foodsharing in Russia.
To do this, the Government must approve a list of products that can be transferred to NGOs for distribution to poor people. Retail chains in advance, at least 24 hours before the expiration date, remove from sale products that are highly likely not to be bought, and transfer them to trusted organizations that have a pool of end consumers. Only in this way, according to the deputy, it is possible to avoid situations of both resale of goods and the transfer of spoiled products to those in need.
If this mechanism is not worked out, in Russia tons of food will be thrown into the trash with a huge number of people in need. “It is absolutely inexplicable and blasphemous that about 17 million tons of products are thrown away, that is, disposed of, in our country every year. This is almost 50 percent more than the entire annual food consumption of Moscow residents, despite the fact that 10.5 percent of the Russian population, according to Rosstat data for 2022, was below the poverty line. In addition, the disposal of food waste generates new landfills and negatively affects the ecology of the surrounding areas, ”the parliamentarian explained to Parlamentskaya Gazeta the relevance of his initiative.
The deputy cited expert data, according to which up to one million tons of food can be transferred through food sharing. However, now this figure is only 7.5 thousand tons, that is, 0.75 percent of the potential volume. And all because it is more profitable for companies to dispose of food than to give it to those in need due to tax burdens.
• There are a lot of fish, but they keep biting
According to economists, the market value of goods donated for charitable needs today is about 700 million rubles, deductions to the budget from VAT are about 70 million rubles.
“With a conservative forecast, the adoption of the bill in the coming years will lead to an increase in the volume of donated food to 100,000 tons per year, the market value of which will be 9.3 billion rubles. Thus, the shortfall in federal budget revenues from the adoption of the bill in the amount of 70 million rubles a year is not comparable with the positive socio-economic effect of the adoption of the bill, ”the financial and economic justification says.
In the footsteps of federal initiatives
The proposal of the St. Petersburg deputy is not an innovation; federal ministers and deputies have been discussing the idea of developing food sharing for more than a year. In June 2022, the Ministry of Industry and Trade supported the idea of relaxing tax laws when donating food to charity. But they proposed limiting the volume of products transferred without taxation not by five, but by one percent of the total turnover.
At first it was planned that the bill would be considered in the autumn session of 2022, but at the end of January 2023, according to the author of the initiative, the State Duma deputy Artem Metelev, the document was under revision. It was amended: concerning the protection of the safety of citizens in the transfer of products or other goods to them.
As of May 29, 2023, Metelev’s document has not yet been entered into the State Duma database.
The bill of the St. Petersburg parliamentarian before being sent to the State Duma must be supported by the deputies of the regional Legislative Assembly.