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Tax reform must be postponed once again

By Dalton Locatelli, Partner and Chairman of the Board of Pryor Global

 

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The convergence of the tax reform project with the Brazilian electoral calendar made the task of guaranteeing its approval this year complex, due to the proximity of the elections, as well as the conflict of interests between parliamentarians who appreciate the myriad of measures associated with it.

In this scenario, the proposal to correct the income tax (IR) table stands out, through which the exemption range would be expanded from R$ 1,903.98 to R$ 2,500, under the argument of relieving the discounts charged to workers.

The cut (between 30% and 34%) of the tax burden on companies is also in the background, rejected by the economic team. The reason is that the measure would cause a breach of R$ 170.5 billion to the public coffers, although it has been ‘authorized’ by the Budget Guidelines Law (LDO) of 2022, which classified the astronomical amount as a ‘fiscal surplus’ and duly linked to the eventual correction of the IR table.

Equally uncertain is the 25% cut in the Tax on Industrialized Products (IPI) – lower than the 33% of the original proposal –, which would leave out the incentive for the Manaus Free Trade Zone (ZFM), now threatened by the evident loss of competitiveness.

In this case, the bargaining chip would be the approval of a project that exempts diesel from PIS/Cofins by R$14.9 billion, a measure that led governors to reduce ICMS (Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services) on the same fuel.

Among the extensive list of abbreviations and their meanings, the following deserve attention:

  • The unification of the state ICMS (Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services) and the ISS (Service Tax) in the Goods and Services Tax (IBS), which becomes part of the so-called Value Added Tax (IVA).
  •  The IVA becomes dual – composed of the federal CBS (Contribution on Goods and Services), and the IBS of states, Federal District, and municipalities – in order to unify federal taxes (PIS and Cofins) in CBS; and ICMS and ISS in the IBS, valid for 40 years.
  • The creation of the Selective Tax (IS) – still under study – would replace the IPI, to discourage the consumption of beverages and tobacco derivatives.
  •  Taxes such as the Tax on Financial Operations (IOF), Cide-fuels (Contribution of intervention in the economic domain incident on operations carried out with fuels), and education allowance remain unchanged in the present tax unification process.

The complexity of Brazilian taxation is widely known here and abroad, which makes the delay in presenting viable proposals and their rapid approval by the National Congress incomprehensible. For years people have been talking about the need for broad tax reform, bringing more objectivity and transparency to companies, facilitating the calculation and payment of taxes, as well as reducing the high rates of default.

The benefits would be multiple for Brazilian businesses and society. The problem is that the proposals are not clearly presented for the discussion of specialists and society. Voting is always postponed for various reasons and the “Custo Brasil” (the cost of doing business in Brazil) increases every year, preventing a greater volume of new foreign investments in the country, better development of our industries, and the generation of new jobs. Now, we can only believe that the election will occur in the best possible way and that, who knows, we will finally have the Tax Reform in 2023.

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