Debt-ridden Ukraine reminds Santas to pay their taxes

Ukraine's tax service office is barred from checking on small businesses, but urged citizens to turn in tax-dodging Santas.

KIEV, Ukraine — Cash-strapped Ukraine Wednesday reminded entertainers making money by posing as Did Moroz — the local version of Santa Claus — and his helpers to pay income tax.

The former Soviet republic's government faces $9 billion in foreign debt repayments next year and its budget deficit almost tripled in the January to October period this year to more than $4 billion.

By studying Internet advertisements, the state tax service found out that a Did Moroz with a traditional female Snihuronka (Snow Maid) helper would earn $30 to $440 per hour in the capital of Kiev this season.

"Such citizens will need to file forms and pay taxes," the tax service said in a statement.

The service said it was barred from conducting tax checks on small businesses, but urged ordinary Ukrainians to report tax-dodging Santas.

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