Almost 1/3 of the companies in Serbia have no registered employees and their total business income in 2020 was over 150 million dinars. The largest number of these companies are engaged in wholesale and retail, then in the processing industry, scientific, professional, innovative and technical activities.
According to the reports compiled by the Business Registers Agency, the enterprises without employees are mostly micro, 31,188 or 99.1% of the total (31,465). There are significantly fewer small enterprises (249), while only 20 are medium-sized and 8 are large. Their total business income in 2020 was 152,646,806 dinars. Since some of these companies earn good money, this may be an alarm that they are doing their business in the shadow economy.
Dragoljub Rajic, a consultant for the Business Support Network (Mreža za Poslovnu Podršku), says there are several reasons why companies without registered workers or with only one employee have sprung up in Serbia.
“Instability in business and financial problems of many large companies prompts people to open other smaller companies, so that they can continue working and keep customers by offering services that 20% cheaper as they do not have to pay invoiced VAT,” Rajic adds.
Thus, owners of larger companies open smaller ones, have no workers but do issue invoices, Rajic says.
However, the fact that 29.7 per cent of such companies are registered in Serbia is worrying. “For us, this should be an alarm, because in case such companies have a large turnover, the question remains what they do to generate such a turnover. Also the origin of their capital should be checked. This is definitely a question for tax authorities,” says Rajic.
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