MEXICO CITY, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Mexico’s tax chief on Wednesday said officials have reviewed several hundred big companies this year in their push to boost tax collection, of which only two firms initially refused to pay.
Compared with all of 2019, large taxpayers this year through August have already increased their tax payments by over 60% to reach 155 billion pesos ($7 billion).
Raquel Buenrostro, head of the SAT tax authority, said the improved collection was significant given the pandemic’s toll on business in Mexico, the country with the lowest tax intake in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
She also said that authorities had reviewed only 627 large companies so far, leaving room to squeeze more taxes from over 11,000 remaining firms that report annual income above 1.52 billion pesos and have yet to face scrutiny.
Walmart Inc’s Mexico unit and Coca-Cola bottler Femsa have recently paid hundreds of millions of dollars after resolving tax disputes.
Of the 627 companies - which span sectors including energy, telecommunications and finance - only two refused to pay during administrative review with the SAT, Buenrostro said. Their cases were escalated to the fiscal prosecutor’s office, which has threatened to bring criminal charges with jail time against suspected tax dodgers, including executives and tax attorneys.
“Two (companies) were sent to the fiscal prosecutor, that didn’t want to pay,” Buenrostro said at President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s regular news conference, without naming the firms or clarifying whether they faced criminal charges.
“We report what the contributor did, and it’s the fiscal prosecutor who determines if (the company) did or did not meet obligations in supposed fraud,” Buenrostro said. She added the two were among 15 companies with large tax debts. Lopez Obrador had previously threatened to publicly expose the 15 if they did not fix their tax situations.
Of the other businesses on the list, Buenrostro said 12 had paid or were doing so in installments, and only one was still under review. ($1 = 22.0983 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Raul Cortes Fernandez in Mexico City Editing by Matthew Lewis)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.