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Mexico’s Favorite Sport Isn’t Soccer, It’s Tax Evasion


Photo: eupolitics.eu

By RICARDO CASTILLO 

After four years of litigation, Mexico’s Treasury Secretariat was ordered by a judge to deliver to the non-government organization Fundar two data bases containing the information of 11 years (2007-2015) of “condoned” taxes. The total amount cam to a staggering figure of 1 quadrillion, 88 trillion, 400 billion pesos at present currency value.

I have no idea as to how much that is either in dollars or pesos. It’s just a lot, and as that old joke on tax evasion – and not soccer – goes, Mexico’s favorite game was not far off the mark.

But even better, the list of persons receiving the “benefit of forgiveness” is no doubt a Who’s Who of upper crust Mexican personalities, whose names range from famous singers – including recently deceased ones, such as Juan Gabriel and José José – all the way to former First Lady and soap star Angelica Rivera. Also current personalities in politics such as ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party president – who is now vying for reelection – Yeidckol Polevnsky and track star Ana Guevara, who runs the Mexican (Olympic) Sports Commission.

The news of making available the data bases was delivered in a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 1, held by the Treasury’s Tax Administration System (SAT) Director Margarita Ríos-Farjat and Fundar foundation president Haydee Pérez Garrido. Needless to say, for Pérez Garrido{s four years of litigation ordeals were over.

During the eight-year period, the presidents of Mexico were Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto. Calderón was prompt to respond to the accusation that it was he who had condoned all those tax holidays while the government’s public debt increased by a similar amount.

On Wednesday, Oct. 2, Calderón had an immediate response to the accusation that he had personally condoned the tax forgivenesses during his administration.

“I emphasize this: These are not decisions made by the president, and I did not carry out any acts of condonation in favor of anybody. These people sought protection under the SAT program” carried out until then, as some of the debtors appealed for not paying on the grounds of leonine interest indexing. Calderón said that in the years previous to his term, tax debt increased enormously because Mexico was being charged a 2 percent monthly penalty, “which made some of the debt unpayable.”

Polevnsky said in a radio interview that, indeed, she had debt condoned, but that it had been a deal carried out by her accountant who registered her under a suit because, as in the case of many others, “I was being charged value added tax and what Hacienda should’ve done was to revise its procedures because it was making mistakes in the way it was charging me.”

Beyond the noise-making list of personalities like the ones mentioned above, there is a longer list of large corporations that entered the list of firms filing suits against the Treasury – and particularly against SAT- whose figures outshine the others.

Among those companies are tissue manufacturer Kimberly Clark, railroad cargo carrier Kansas City Southern Mexico, baking company Bimbo, JP Morgan bank, Azteca (television and furniture stores) Holdings, and stock broker Value – these, among a myriad more.

Some of the biggies with condoned taxes are the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), worth 13.55 billion pesos and Halliburton, with 1.125 billion pesos. (In the case of the CFE, the minute a user does not pay his/her light bill, the company shuts off the switch. The CFE collected not just for the bill, but for value added taxes.)

Fundar director Pérez Garrido explained that the way individuals and companies used to have their tax debt erased was to sue SAT and then request to have their “fiscal credit” debt cancelled.

“A cancelled fiscal credit is put on hold in order to still be collected by the fiscal authorities,” she said. “A condoned credit is a fiscal pardon,” which is what the majority of these individuals and cpmanies got.

Pérez Garrido mentioned that in her findings – she’s scrutinized the two data bases – “there’s an important concentration of very large amounts, among just a few entities, both physical and moral.” (In Mexican taxation, a physical person is an individual while a moral person represents a company.)

SAT’s Ríos-Farjat that the availability of these data bases had to go through a court of law in order to have the SAT make it available to the public, in this case through Fundar, an NGO.

“But I believe that fiscal condonation should not be hidden (as it was), because it generates differences and unfair competitions among taxpayers,” she said. “Taxes are (a government’s) economic resources and they require transparency when received as well as when they are not received. We consider that it is legitimate that if a taxpayer did not pay, the taxpayer that did pay his or her taxes has the right to know why the non-payer did not pay and under what circumstances that was permitted.”

Mind you, the data bases include only through 2015 because during the following years up until 2019 there were many suits, also for thousands of people and companies seeking condonation.

The ball is now in the SAT’s court, where all the tax condonation scams took place, and it is clear that there must have been a lot of payoffs under and even over the table.

Soccer, anyone?

(Who the hell wants soccer when tax evasion is a lot more fun?)

 

 

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