Before election, Putin proposes writing off part of Russians' debts

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is running for re-election in March, has proposed writing off some of the tax debts accumulated by Russian individuals and small businesses.

A total of about 80 billion roubles ($1.4 billion) would be written off under Putin’s proposal, a high-ranking official told Reuters.

Speaking at his annual news conference, Putin said that some of the debt accumulated because of flaws in Russia’s tax system.

“I think that people should be freed from these payments, and it should be done in the most de-bureaucratic way, without the need to apply to a tax inspection,” he added.

He estimated that debts of 42 million people worth 41 billion roubles should be written off.

The high-ranking official told Reuters that Putin was speaking about debts for property tax and penalties accrued before 2015 that the tax service recognizes as uncollectible.

The debts of 2.9 million self-employed entrepreneurs worth more than 15 billion roubles should also be written off, Putin said.

He also proposed writing off profit tax, accumulated by some Russian citizens on their so-called waived debts.

According to the high-ranking official, the latter would mean writing off 22 billion roubles.

($1 = 58.8600 roubles)

Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Polina Nikolskaya, writing by Polina Devitt, editing by Larry King