Photo: SAT


Mexico’s Tax Administration Service (SAT) seems to have overharvested its big-corporation settlement program, leaving the Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) administration’s proverbial goose-that-lays-the-golden-egg revenue source quite literally overtaxed.

According to figures from the Finance Secretariat (Hacienda), in the first 10 months of this year, the SAT collected just 148 billion pesos from audits of large taxpayers, an annual drop of 29.6 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

The SAT’s overdue-tax collection goal for 2021 was 3.5 trillion pesos, so the figure represents less than 4.3 percent of that target.

Last year, 210.291 billion pesos in undeclared taxes were recovered from large-corporation audits, including from some of the nation’s biggest companies, such as Walmart, Femsa, IBM, BBVA, Modelo and América Móvil, mostly through government threats of charging noncompliers with criminal tax evasion.

Moreover, of the amount collected this year, 116.939 billion pesos were virtual collections, resources that cannot be used to offset the payment of tax or as balances in favor.

The remaining 31 billion pesos were given as cash payments, barely over a third of the 89.104 billion pesos collected in cash during the first 10 months of 2020.

This drop occurred despite the fact that at the beginning of the year the SAT presented a Master Operation Plan 2021 to the private sector, the focus of which would be to scrutinize outstanding payment oversights by large taxpayers.

As part of that plan, the SAT intended to rev up its pay-up-or-face-criminal-penalties collection methods that it has used since AMLO took office in December 2018, pressuring companies to review their own books for potential oversights.

Analysts say that the drop in corporate tax revenues this year was largely due to the fact that although the examination of large taxpayers continued, in 2020 most of the outstanding debts collected by the SAT were for previous years, and there are now far less pending past-due taxes.

Additionally, any SAT reviews of taxes not paid for last year’s operations are likely to be lower because many large companies were affected by the pandemic, reducing their operations, profits, hiring and investments abroad, given Mexico’s lack of legal certainty for investors under the AMLO administration.

The reduction in resources for examination of large taxpayers will pay for the failure to meet the collection goal of 3.5 billion pesos this year, she said.

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