August 20, 2014 / 6:36 AM / 5 years ago

Chile's Senate approves tax reform, moves closer to becoming law

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet waves as she leaves the Itamaraty Palce after the 6th BRICS summit and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), in Brasilia July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s Senate overwhelmingly approved modifications to President Michelle Bachelet’s flagship tax reform late on Tuesday, sending it back to the lower house of Congress for discussion and bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

Last month, the Senate’s five-member Finance Committee introduced changes to the reform, including increasing corporate taxes to 27 percent by 2017 from the current 20 percent. In the bill as initially presented to Congress, corporate taxes were to increase to 25 percent.

“We’re moving towards a structural reform ... and we’ve done it with ample support, which precisely gives it stability and sustainability,” said Finance Minister Alberto Arenas.

With 33 votes in favour and one against, the Senate approved the changes. The bill will now head back to the Chamber of Deputies. If approved there with no new changes, it will be sent to Bachelet to be signed into law.

If new changes are introduced, it must then pass to another congressional committee for review.

The reform aims to boost tax revenue by around $8.3 billion, equivalent to nearly 3 percent of gross domestic product, to pay for an education overhaul and profound changes to Chile’s health care system.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Antonio de la Jara; Editing by Larry King

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