• PANAMA

    World Wide Tax News Issue 53 - December 2019

General tax amnesty for the payment of interest, surcharges and fines

Law No. 99 of 11 October 2019, approved by the National Assembly and published in the Official Gazette No. 28881-B of 14 October 2019, established an amnesty which aims to increase the collection of taxes owed by taxpayers to the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI).

This Law cancels interest, surcharges and fines, as detailed below.

Scope of the Law

This Law cancels certain debts related to taxes administered by the DGI, including:

  1. Interest and surcharges for tax-related offences, fees and special contributions and any other money, liquid and enforceable debts administered by the DGI. The Law does not cancel the taxes, only certain debts related to the taxes.
  2. Fines for late statements or omissions filed during the term of this Law.
  3. Fines for late submission of reports or compliance obligations until 31 December 2019.
  4. Fines for infringements of jurisdiction of the DGI until 30 June 2019.

Eligibility for the General Tax Amnesty

Payable and overdue taxes, as well as fees and special contributions owed by 30 June 2019, may be eligible for the benefits of this amnesty, even if there were payment arrangements at the entry into force of this Act, whether due to a coercive process or administrative collection, without prejudice to the precautionary measures adopted. The following categories of taxpayer can benefit:

  1. Individual taxpayers
  2. Legal persons
  3. Real estate considered as a taxpayer by the DGI for tax purposes
  4. Withholding agents
  5. Taxpayers with additional liquidation processes, ex-officio encumbrances or any payment requirement before the DGI, prior to the withdrawal of the action or remedy for the payment of the obligation.[1]
  6. Others responsible for taxes.

Exceptions

Taxpayers in administrative tax evasion or criminal tax fraud processes are not eligible.

General Conditions for the payment of taxes, fees and contributions eligible for amnesty:

Up to 100% of the amount due may be cancelled, depending on when payment is made:

Date of payment

Percentage cancelled

October and November 2019

100%

December 2019

95%

January 2020

90%

February 2020

80%


The amnesty period lasts until 29 February 2020.

Anyone wishing to benefit from amnesty through a payment arrangement must meet the conditions below.

Conditions for payment arrangement

Taxpayers who are in arrears and taxpayers with a payment arrangement prior to this amnesty, who at the time of the entry into force of this Law decide to apply for amnesty, may withdraw from their prior payment arrangement, and will be granted the right to sign a new payment agreement.

For the new payment agreement, the taxpayer must firstly pay 25% of the nominal tax due. The deadline for complying with the new payment arrangement is 30 June 2020.

Outstanding balances that are not cancelled within the tax amnesty period or at the expiration of the payment arrangement will be subject to interest payments, fines and surcharges.

The same general conditions indicated above apply to qualify for the tax amnesty period.

Forms not submitted by 30 June 2019

The submission deadline for forms that were due to be submitted by 30 June 2019 is extended until 31 December 2019 including:

  1. Reports on donations received
  2. Report on non-reporting taxpayers (NGOs) – F27
  3. Payroll form 03-F3
  4. Reports of retirement fund, pensions and other benefits F-40
  5. Insurer reports – certification of medical expenses by insured F-41
  6. Certification of interests on residential mortgage loans without preferential interest F-42
  7. Reports of purchases and imports of goods and services F-43
  8. Credit Card Sales Report (VTD) F-44
  9. Transfer pricing reports F-930
  10. Affidavit of withholdings or remittances abroad submitted by the headquarters of multinational companies and by companies established in Panama Pacifico F-05.
  11. Any other omitted affidavit or report of compliance with outstanding obligations as of 30 June 2019, as well as fines for administrative contraventions by the DGI.

Inaccurate or false forms will be treated as not submitted, and subject to sanctions.

Applying for the Tax Amnesty

Taxpayers can apply for the amnesty in the following ways:

  1. Personal submission of taxpayer to the DGI.
  2. By means of Power of Attorney.
  3. Through the webpage (e-Tax 2.0)

Power of DGI to declare tax debts as cancelled

The DGI can, upon request of the taxpayers and applying the corresponding statutes of limitations for the relevant taxes, declare existing debts reflected in the balance accounts of the taxpayer as of 30 June 2019 as cancelled, once they benefit from the amnesty. 

The cancellation may be declared provided that: (i) the taxpayer pays the amount owed within the tax amnesty period or upon the expiration of the payment arrangement, and (ii) the statute of limitations established in the rules of each tax has been fulfilled.

Late declaration of amendments

The declaration of new and additional amendments will not be subject to a fine, provided that the public deed on these declarations is submitted to the Public Registry during the period of amnesty.

In addition, it will be necessary to submit a sworn statement before the Notary or a Certification issued by a Certified Public Accountant stating the date of construction of these amendments and subsequently registering in the Public Registry and submitting the deed registered in ANATI for the corresponding update.

Employee/employer Social Security Fund fees  

The tax amnesty period includes interest and surcharges, until 31 December 2019, on the employee/employer Social Security Fund fees in relation to pay by the State to former employees affected by Law 25 of 1990.[2]

Other provisions: Amendments to the Tax Procedure Code

Law 76 of 2019

Amendment

Section 1 of Article 88. Prescription of 12 years for indirect taxes and 5 years for direct taxes.

5-year prescription for both indirect and direct taxes.

Amendment and addition of paragraph to Article 89. The calculation of the limitation period, at the end of 5 and 12 years.

Calculation of prescription at the end of 5 years.

Paragraph: The statutes of limitations apply for taxes caused as of 1 January 2021.

Valid as of 1 January 2020

Valid as of 1 January 2021


Recommendations

Given the opportunity for tax regularisation offered by the new approved amnesty law, we would make the following general recommendations:

  1. The tax amnesty will be extended for a period of five months, i.e. until 29 February 2020; therefore, taxpayers should urgently evaluate all outstanding tax liabilities in order to pay any balances, eliminating the respective surcharges and interests accrued to date.
  2. Similarly, all taxpayers or responsible parties who have delayed or omitted to comply with formal obligations to provide information to the DGI, should take advantage of the grace period granted until 31 December 2019 to correct such omissions without application of the relevant fines.
  3. Finally, we recommend that all taxpayers who have tax administrative processes (at the level of reconsideration, appeal or contentious administrative) should evaluate the possibility of participating in this tax amnesty. This especially applies where the positions in question are uncertain, or where the taxpayer or other responsible person lacks adequate proof to support the positions they initially adopted.

BDO has a full team of professionals to assist our clients and taxpayers in general to make efficient use of the opportunities presented by this new tax amnesty law.

Publio Cortés
[email protected]

Rafael Rivera
[email protected]

 


[1] In these cases, the process consists firstly of withdrawing the action or remedy, then the taxpayer must appear before the DGI, within the period of the tax amnesty, to comply with the payment of the amount due in full, without surcharges, interest or fines.

[2] Law No. 25 of 1990. Obligation of the State that arises based on the Decision of the IACHR. Ricardo Baena Case and others.