Simplification

“Our life is wasted on the details. Simplify, simplify.” Henry David Thoreau

On February 6, 2002, Rogelio Ramírez de la O, then director of Ecanal, a private consultancy, wrote in Reforma: “In Mexico, three requirements are necessary to obtain something. First, to have the right to do so. Second, to know how to present the case to who are asked. Finally, they want to give it to them. ”

Ramírez de la O is today Secretary of the Treasury and is promoting an important reform. “The tax transformation we seek is focused on simplification,” he told deputies in August. Taxpayers are entitled to it and the secretary has already presented the case. We will have to see now if they want to give it to us.

“Small and medium taxpayers cannot meet their obligations under the complex and expensive tax system we currently have,” said Ramírez de la O. This not only limits the compliance possibilities of current taxpayers, but also establishes barriers of entry to new taxpayers and formal workers “.

The secretary is proposing changes to the Income Tax Law to create a new “trust regime.” Individuals with business activity and income of up to 3.5 million pesos per year would pay fixed fees, would not have to carry out up to five procedures and would not have to keep accounting records with third parties. Companies with sales of up to 35 million pesos per year could “pay taxes based on the income actually received, instead of accrued, to give them greater liquidity”, and would be allowed an accelerated depreciation.

These proposals are far from the promises made by López Obrador at the beginning. On September 5, 2018, the then president-elect offered a tax reform in Monterrey “that will have as a basic element simplification, trusting the citizen, the taxpayer, not seeing him as a potential criminal, that all Mexican citizens can do. an annual demonstration and say ‘in use of my faculties and under protest to tell the truth, I had such income’, and with a simple formula, ‘it corresponds to me to contribute so much’ “.

I applaud enthusiastically, but the measures announced do not deliver on the promise. To begin with, the creation of special regimes creates new complexities. A system that truly simplifies should have few rules that apply to everyone.

When it is intended to benefit a few, distortions occur. Putting the condition that taxpayers do not have income higher than a certain limit creates a perverse incentive not to grow more than that level. To enjoy the new trust regime, the taxpayer must first generate an advanced electronic signature and activate their tax mailbox, in addition to issuing or requesting invoices through the SAT portal. However, to obtain this electronic signature, a face-to-face appointment is required at the SAT, which today is almost impossible to obtain.

Today Ramírez de la O tells us that there will be facilities once the SAT door is crossed, but it remains firmly closed. The excess of paperwork means that 56.2 percent of the employed population works informally. Many of these 31 million Mexicans want a formal activity, but the system does not allow it. The new trust regime may be a breakthrough, but it does not solve the problem. They don’t want to give us that real simplification that López Obrador promised us.

INCREASE

The Treasury budget foresees a growth of 4.1 percent in 2022 after one of 6.3 percent in 2021. The forecast is more optimistic than what independent economists consider. A fundamental issue will be to achieve an increase in productive investment, which until now remains very low.

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