The founder of the VETO movement, former adviser to the chief of police Narek Malyan, made a post on his Facebook page on January 14, 2020, announcing that organizations funded by the Open Society Foundations office were exempted from a number of taxes.
“By the decision N 86-A of RA Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, the following organizations funded by the Soros office were considered ‘charitable organizations’ and were exempt from a number of taxes,” Malyan wrote.
He presented the names of non-governmental organizations, including the Asparez Journalists ‘Club, the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, the Public Journalism Club, the Union of Informed Citizens, and others.
Malian also attached to the note the decision signed by Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan on March 2, 2019.
Malyan’s post has been circulated by Politik.am, Tert.am, Zham.am, Yerevan.today.am and other news outlets.
The Fact Investigation Platform decided to find out whether Narek Malyan’s post was true or not.
It should be noted that privileges on taxes, duties and mandatory payments are granted to charitable programs recognized by the Authorized Body under the Charity Act of 2002. Recognized charitable organizations are exempt from value added tax and customs duties.
According to Government Decree N 66-N, which entered into force in 2003, oversight of the work with charitable organizations and the process of exemption from VAT is carried out by the Government’s Charity Coordination Commission.
By the decision N 908-N dated August 21, 2018, the RA First Deputy Prime Minister has been recognized as the body authorized by the Government, while by another decision of 2019 the sphere of charity is coordinated by the RA Deputy Prime Minister.
It is noteworthy that not the organizations listed in the list have been exempted from taxes, but Open Society Foundations-Armenia.
Executive Director of the organization Larisa Minasyan told Fip.am that it is not the first time OSF Armenia has received such a privilege.
She noted that every year, and every two years after the change of order, they apply for a charity program coordination commission to get charity status. However, only the costs and activities specified in the plan are exempt from VAT.
“The Open Society Foundations receives such previliges neither the first, nor the second, nor the 15th time. Since 1998, every year OSF has been qualified as a charitable organization, presenting and substantiating its activities. All previous governments have considered and granted this status,” said Larisa Minasyan, also providing the decisions of previous years.
He also said that the organizations listed in Narek Malyan’s list have not been exempted from taxation because the organizations they provide grants are not recognized as charitable.
The list of those organizations was included in the decision as it was in the charity program coordination commission program, but that does not mean that these organizations have been granted privileges. Thus, presenting a one-year-old document, Narek Malyan distorted the facts, giving the impression that all these companies were granted tax privileges only under the post-revolutionary authorities. However, only the Open Society Foundations were exempt from VAT as a charitable organization. In addition, OSF has received these privileges several times since 1998.