Tax and customs in Kazakhstan

Dentons

Dentons‘ tax practice operates on an interdisciplinary basis, with its work having an interface with areas such as corporate, real estate and litigation. The firm has a particularly strong track record in high-stakes tax disputes, as was evidenced in 2021 when practice head Daniyar Toigonbaev acted for Orda Glass in court proceedings against the tax authority over the client’s activities under an investment contract. Like Toigonbaev, Stanislav Lechshak is also experienced in contentious tax matters. He acts for clients in sectors such as oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, retail, telecoms and mining. Tax adviser Darya Vologodskaya joined from PwC.

Practice head(s):

Daniyar Toigonbaev

Other key lawyers:

Stanislav Lechshak; Darya Vologodskaya

Key clients

Orda Glass LLP

Kazzinc LLP

Citic Construction Co., LTD

ArcelorMittal Temirtau, LLP

Kaz Green Tek Solar, LLP

Cameco Corporation

Barclays Bank PLC

Amazon

Trans-Asia Gas Pipeline Company

Work highlights

  • Represented Orda Glass LLP in court against the tax authority in a dispute related to the client’s activities under the investment contract. The case was recognized as an investment dispute, therefore was considered by the Supreme Court acting as a first instance court.
  • Represented KazZinc LLP in a dispute against the tax authority associated with assessment of about $6m corporate income tax in relation to alleged transactions with sham entities.
  • Advised Citic Construction Co. on taxation of dividends payable to a foreign shareholder in view of the changes in the Kazakhstan’s legislation that became effective on January 1, 2021.

GRATA International

GRATA International has operated a tax services practice for more than 29 years. Its service offering spans tax and customs consultancy, tax and customs control, as well as representation in tax and customs disputes. Almaty-based partner Assel Ilyassova leads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Assel Ilyassova

Other key lawyers:

Kanat Adilbekov; Shayakhmet Zharkimbayev; Kamila Urazalina; Lyazzat Zhilkibagarova; Damir Abdrakhmanov

Sayat Zholshy & Partners

Sayat Zholshy & Partners‘ team has experience of representing clients in tax-related administrative and court proceedings, and also assisted foreign investors with protecting rights to acceptable tax benefits, as well as handling tax planning. It is a member of the Scientific and Technical Council for Improvement of Kazakhstan Intellectual Property Law. The practice is led by Almaty-based senior partner Rustam Ospanov and partner Yelena Tyureikina.

Practice head(s):

Rustam Ospanov; Yelena Tyureikina

Testimonials

‘The strongest points of SZP include the availability of highly experienced and qualified lawyers and a long-term practical experience in all areas of law that might be required for the management and support of a large-scale business.’

‘Due care, high capacity for work, creativity, knowledge across many areas of law (first of all, profound knowledge of tax and customs laws), client-orientation, ability to foresee all potential risks and to effectively mitigate them – these are the qualities which we value in the SZP team providing services to us.’

‘We are happy to have found such a strong, highly professional team which helps us with resolving all our legal issues. We would like to single out the tax practice of Sayat Zholshy & Partners. In fact, not many Kazakhstan law firms can boast of such strong tax practice which is definitely a hallmark of Sayat Zholshy & Partners.’

‘Yelena has an outstanding expertise in tax law. She handles all our assignments with great care and diligence. Her performance is excellent. Despite many gaps and inconsistencies in Kazakhstan tax law, Yelena always finds right solutions to the most challenging and controversial issues at minimum risk for her clients.’

‘We appreciate the efforts of senior partner Rustam Ospanov, who stands out due to his business proficiency and skilful organisation of teamwork and liaison with the client. He always finds the most efficient solutions beneficial to the client.’

‘A unique combination of knowledge and skills in how to apply the national tax and customs laws with expertise and experience in applying foreign tax and customs laws; proficiency in applying and benefiting from bilateral and multilateral international tax and customs conventions; extensive and successful experience in challenging decisions and actions of tax and customs authorities – all the above makes Sayat Zholshy & Partners a one-off and highly demanded law firm.’

‘We would like to single out senior partner Rustam Ospanov with whom (and his team) we have been collaborating for over 20 years. We are impressed by the level of their engagement and teamwork attained amidst the pandemic and lockdowns. Despite all the difficulties and restrictions, we’ve managed to successfully implement very challenging and crucial projects.’

Key clients

Alautransservice LLP

TengizTransGaz LLP

CAIH Power LLP

RG Brands Kazakhstan

Nomad Insurance

Area Plus JV Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised TengizTransGaz and Alautransservice on cost and tax efficient corporate restructuring.
  • Represented Area Plus JV Ltd in a dispute with the Kazakhstan customs authorities regarding the forfeiture of an aircraft.
  • Advised on international tax structuring for CAIH Power LLP and its Ultimate Beneficial Owners.

Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited

Baker & McKenzie – CIS, Limited covers all major areas of tax, with work ranging from tax planning and tax advice to the tax aspects of M&A and other transactions. It also defends clients in proceedings before local tax authorities and courts. Almaty-based partner Azamat Kuatbekov has overseen a number of deals as lead partner, supported by Igor Kolupayev and Gulnur Bekmukhanbetova.

Practice head(s):

Azamat Kuatbekov; Igor Kolupayev; Gulnur Bekmukhanbetova

Testimonials

‘This partner is really qualified and has a lot of experience in appealing the results of a tax audit. They provide us strong support and immediately consult us on all our relevant questions. Our victory in this case was also due to their recommendations and defence strategy’

‘We would like to highlight the work of Igor Kolupaev, who assisted us in this case. Igor is a very competent and responsible partner, has extensive experience and expertise in the field of appealing the results of tax audits, knows all the nuances of the appropriate legislation’

Key clients

Johnson & Johnson LLC

Nelson Petroleum Buzachi B.V.

Potential Oil LLP

CNPC International Buzachi B.V.

Adidas

Planet S.A.

Work highlights

  • Represented Adidas in a dispute with the local tax authorities over a tax residency matter.
  • Represented Frank’s International in connection with an ongoing dispute with the tax authorities over the results of a tax audit of the client’s Kazakhstan branch.
  • Advised Johnson & Johnson in relation to tax and customs implications of a business restructuring in Kazakhstan.

Deloitte TCF, LLP

Deloitte TCF, LLP is an international firm, connecting the Kazakhstan branch with a network of lawyers across the region. Its tax services cover tax reviews, tax structuring, transfer pricing, accounting and compliance. Almaty-based partner Agaisha Ibrasheva, who has over 20 years of experience, is supported by Yeldos Syzdykov and Andrey Zakharchuk.

Practice head(s):

Andrey Zakharchuk; Yeldos Syzdykov; Aidana Abdaliyeva

Other key lawyers:

Agaisha Ibrasheva

SIGNUM Law Firm

SIGNUM Law Firm's tax practice primarily acts for international clients, with a workload spanning transactional matters (including customs), general tax advice and litigation. Its recent work included advising Silk Energy Limited on the tax aspects of the $21m indirect acquisition of a Kazakhstan-based subsoil user via the London Stock Exchange-based reversed takeover. The team is led by managing partner Sofiya Zhylkaidarova and Talgat Sariev.

Practice head(s):

Sofiya Zhylkaidarova; Talgat Sariev

Testimonials

‘SIGNUM’s team has developed solutions that protect our interests as an investor and a large taxpayer, ensuring that the company can make good use of the incentives available.’

‘Sofiya Zhylkaidarova is exceptionally knowledgeable and very well connected to negotiate the most complex regulatory matters for oil and gas sector companies in Kazakhstan. She is the lawyer you want to have on your side in Kazakhstan. Her advice is very well substantiated, enforceable and efficient.’

‘Talgat Sariev has a great insight into the nuances of the Kazakhstan taxation regime and is very well-versed in litigating tax disputes.’

Key clients

Silk Energy Limited

AEQUITAS

AEQUITAS is active in local and cross-border tax matters, with its work encompassing tax disputes and the drafting of IFRS-compliant accounting tax policies. Its team has experience of advising large pharmaceutical companies and oil exploration ventures on tax matters, in addition to undertaking due diligence work for companies active in areas such as logistics and transportation. The firm has recently become a member of the global law network TerraLex. Almaty-based partners Yuliya Chumachenko and Ardak Idayatova are the names to note.

Practice head(s):

Yuliya Chumachenko; Ardak Idayatova

Key clients

Сompany KDV

Ernst & Young Kazakhstan LLP

Ernst & Young Kazakhstan LLP's international reach makes it well-placed to advise clients on global risks connected with cross-border tax controversies, as well as the tax aspects of cross-border transactions. The team is also adept at advising on domestic tax planning, transfer pricing and indirect tax planning. Tax audits and litigation are other drivers of work for the group, which is jointly led by Dinara Tanasheva and Erlan Dosymbekov.

Practice head(s):

Erlan Dosymbekov; Dinara Tanasheva

Other key lawyers:

Doniyorbek Zulunov; Roman Yurtayev; Saltanat Dauletova; Aziz Abdukarimov; Ayan Sarinov; Rafael Khaidarov; Olga Pak; Aigul Bikebayeva; Aigerim Kozhakhmetova; Aigerim Aisina

Key clients

Estee Lauder LLP

Work highlights

  • Assisted EstéeLauder LLP with substantially reducing the initial calculation of additional assessments made by the tax authority.

Integrites

Integrites provides comprehensive advice to residents and non-residents in Kazakhstan on double taxation treaties, transfer pricing, investment preferences and tax disputes. Clients include Turkish Airlines, KazPetrolGroup and Mercury Properties. Managing partner Kurmangazy Talzhanov leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Kurmangazy Talzhanov; Galymbek Kereibayev

Key clients

Gedeon Richter KZ LLP

Hydratight (ENERPAC)

Turkish Airlines

KazPetrolGroup LLP

SITEK Caspian

Equinor ASA

Mercury Properties

Tarkett KZ

ZTE Corporation