The Latvian State Revenue Service has announced that they plan to be fully operational in English by January, 2018. This includes telephone support, consultations, and the EDS (Electronic Declaration System) tax and business software.
The Latvian State Revenue Service (SRS) is a notoriously non-English speaking state institution, which has caused many a headache for international entrepreneurs. In a surprise move, the insistution has shown initiative and has taken upon itself to make the service available in English. It was previously speculated that the institution would only do so under the pressure of the Ministry of Economics, which has been pioneering startup policy, through means of the startup law and startup residence permit (colloquially the "Startup Visa").
The decision comes as an eagerness to encourage international business in Latvia, says SRS representative Ilze Cirule.
The decision has been met with controversy, as the Language Center of Latvia has denounced the initiative. The Language center emphasizes that there are laws that decry that state services can only be offered in the National language - Latvian, and that such an initiative undermines the national language law.
Though the decison hasn't been accepted by the government, the SRS in cooperation with the Ministry of Economics are preparing a joint statement to be handed in for consideration by the Cabinet of Ministers.
The Electronic Declaration System (EDS) to be translated to English
The EDS system allows entrepreneurs, whether startup owners, freelancers or business owners, to conduct all of their tax requirements electronically. It offers many functions, including;
- managing employees
- submitting quarterly and annual earnings reports
- calculates the amout of taxes to be paid to the state
- submitting documents for tax deductions
- many more
The system is currently only available in Latvian, but plans are to translate it into English, as well as all of the different documents and templates that are made available to implement the different functions. What's most promising is that these documents and applications will be made to seamlessly integrate with other state systems. This marks a meaningful step towards a full-service English language experience for foreign entrepreneurs.
A nation-wide push for international entrepreneurship and innovation
The initiative to make the SRS services availabel in English comes as one in a succession of initiatives by the state to encourage internationals to conduct their business in Latvia.
Previous iniatitve include:
- The startup law - an all encompassing law that offers fixed tax rates for startups, co-financing models for research and development, etc.
- The startup residence permit (aka visa) - fast-tracked and eased demands for international startup founders and their team members
- Ridesharing law - a law that supports sharing-economy transportation startups, such as Taxify and Uber
The Minister of Economics, Arvils Aseradens, has been an avid supporter of startup development in Latvia. He has highlighted that he believes that investing in starutps is the fastest way to promote rapid economic growth in a small economy such as Latvia. As a result, we're seeing a spillover effect, where this opinion is being reflected and acted upon in other state institutions, such as the Parliament and the State Revenue Service.