June 25, 2021
Brazilian Government proposes changes to corporate income tax system as second phase of comprehensive tax reform
If enacted, the bill would reduce the corporate income tax rate, eliminate the withholding tax exemption for dividends and strengthen the rules on the disguised distribution of profits. Taxpayers should continue to monitor the progress of the bill through Congress and should determine the impact the bill's provisions could have on their operations.
On 25 June 2021, the Brazilian Government proposed a bill that would change the corporate income tax system by reducing the corporate income tax rate, establishing a withholding tax on dividends and strengthening the rules on the disguised distribution of profits, among other things. This bill is the second phase of Brazil's comprehensive tax reform. For information on the first phase, see Tax Alerts 2019-2128 and 2020-1860.
The main provisions of the bill consist of the following:
The bill would reduce the current 34% combined corporate income tax rate (which includes both the 25% corporate income tax (IRPJ) and the 9% social contribution on net profit (CSLL)) to 29%. The rate would be reduced by 2.5 percentage points in 2022 and another 2.5 percentage points in 2023.
Additionally, the bill would eliminate the withholding tax exemption for dividends and would subject dividends to a 20% withholding tax rate. The withholding tax rate would increase to 30% if the payments' beneficiary is located in a low-tax jurisdiction, as defined by Brazilian tax regulations.
The bill also would strengthen the rules on the disguised distribution of profits and add new transactions that may qualify as a disguised distribution of profits (e.g., a loan granted by an entity with distributable profits to a related entity).
In addition, the bill would:
In general, the bill would overhaul the taxation applicable to Brazilian investment funds. According to the bill, the intent is to achieve a symmetric tax treatment across investment funds and asset classes.
Currently, open-end funds are subject to a regressive withholding tax rate ranging from 22.5% to 15% at maturity, depending on the investments' maturity term. The bill would subject open-end funds and closed-end funds to a 15% withholding tax upon redemption. Distributions and certain undistributed income events, so-called come-cotas, also would be subject to the 15% withholding tax rate.
Additionally, the bill would eliminate the withholding tax exemption for distributions received by individuals from real estate investment funds. Those distributions would be subject to a 15% withholding tax.
The bill would eliminate deferral opportunities currently achieved under certain investment fund structures. For example, private equity funds that would not qualify as investment entities under the local Securities and Exchange Commission regulations would no longer be exempt from income tax. Instead, those funds would be taxed as regular corporate entities.
The bill would increase the amount of income exempt from income taxes every month from BRL 1,903.98 to BRL 2,500.00. In addition, the bill would reduce access to the simplified method, which allows individuals to deduct a presumed amount of expenses. Under the bill, only taxpayers with annual income of BRL 40k or less would be entitled to the simplified method.
If enacted this year, the corporate income tax reform would be effective January 1, 2022. Both chambers of the National Congress (i.e., Chamber of Deputies and Senate) still need to discuss and approve the bill in different voting rounds. The legislative process usually takes time in Brazil, and the current wording of the bill may be changed during this process.
Taxpayers in Brazil should evaluate whether they need to act before year end in view of the expected changes to Brazilian income tax legislation. Some relevant aspects to be considered include (but are not limited to):