Latin America among the most complex regions in the world for Accounting and Tax compliance

Brazil is the 2nd most complex jurisdiction for accounting and tax, while Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia and Mexico make the top 15 in TMF Group's Financial Complexity Index 2017.

Brazil is second only to Turkey in a new global ranking of jurisdictions according to their Accounting and Tax complexity. TMF Group’s inaugural Financial Complexity Index 2017 lists Latin America as home to some of the most complex jurisdictions in the world, with five making it into the top 15.

Alongside Brazil in the top 10 is Colombia (6) and Argentina (9). Bolivia is 12th and Mexico is in 15th position.

In determining the rankings with its in-house accounting and tax experts, TMF Group used four weighted complexity parameters, considering the accounting and tax rules and regulations in different jurisdictions, and risks associated with non-compliance.

Argentina scored the highest of all 94 jurisdictions ranked, in the area of ‘Reporting’ complexity (88%). Mexico came in as the most complex for ‘Bookkeeping’ (84%).

TOP 10 MOST COMPLEX JURISDICTIONS FOR ACCOUNTING AND TAX COMPLIANCE

JURISDICTION   GLOBAL RANKING  
 Turkey   1
 Brazil  2
 Italy  3
 Greece  4
 Vietnam  5
 Colombia  6
 China   7
 Belgium  8
 Argentina  9
 India  10


MOST COMPLEX BY EACH COMPLEXITY PARAMETER

   Most complex    Global average   Least complex   
 Compliance   Greece  78%    60%   Cayman Islands   32%
 Reporting  Argentina  88%   55%   Curacao   8%
 Bookkeeping  Mexico  84%   51%   Cayman Islands   27%
 Tax   Italy  68%   48%   UAE  7% 

 

Commenting on the rankings, Raimundo Diaz, Regional Head of the Americas for TMF Group said: “Latin America’s prominence in the top 15 is largely due to the common practice of levying three layers of taxation, at federal, state and municipal level.

"In Brazil, knowing which taxes to pay, to which government entity, and for which product or service poses a serious challenge. The complexity often results in businesses either paying the wrong amount of tax or paying tax on the wrong goods and services.

“When operating in a diverse global market, knowing and understanding local requirements for financial compliance can prove the difference between cross-border business success or failure.

“As more and more nations in Latin America look to automate and digitise their information storage and reporting requirements, it’s important that organisations have access to local expertise to help with their accounting and tax compliance, allow for transparency and flexibility. This way they can be operationally efficient, and reach their full business potential.”

Results summary

  • Brazil is the 2nd most complex jurisdiction in the world for financial compliance. A total of 90+ taxes, duties and contributions are charged in Brazil. All taxes are based on different government spheres of federal taxes, state taxes and municipal taxes. The launch and roll-out of eSocial has created a single system that replaces the need for companies to send separate reporting to Social Security, the Internal Revenue service and Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and Employment. However, in the short term, it could make reporting even more complex.
  • Colombia is the 6th most complex jurisdiction in the world. The country has undertaken two tax reforms in less than three years. The most recent changes have resulted in wording that allows for different interpretations of key tax rules – increasing their complexity.
  • Argentina is ranked 9th in the index and scored the highest of all 94 jurisdictions ranked, in the area of ‘Reporting’ complexity (88%). The country is divided into several jurisdictions so revenue is raised by the national, provincial and sometimes municipal governments, mainly through taxes levied on income, assets and consumption. As a result, during a typical year, many legislative changes can take place and instances of double-taxation can arise.
  • Bolivia at 12th has maintained a relatively steady business climate over the past few years, however issues like the lack of transparency and arbitrary decisions relating to regulation add its complexity.
  • Mexico comes in at 15th overall and is 1st for complexity in ‘Bookkeeping’ (84%). Tax legislation in Mexico is unique in the sense that the basic accepted documentation supporting transactions is the invoice issued by the supplier. Although the country is in the process of adopting IFRS, it is important that every foreign company coming into the country analyses the regulatory and reporting differences, particularly for different industries.

To download the full report, please visit: tmf-group.com/FCI2017

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

For more information please contact:

Carlie Bonavia, TMF Group PR & Communications Executive: carlie.bonavia@tmf-group.com

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