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Mexico: Constitutional Amendment on Tax Forgiveness Passed

(Mar. 26, 2020) On February 25, 2020, Mexico’s Congress passed a constitutional amendment generally prohibiting tax forgiveness except in a limited number of cases determined by statutory law.

Background

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador proposed this amendment in 2019, arguing that tax forgiveness powers had been exercised excessively and baselessly by previous administrations.

Specifically, the proposal explained that Mexico’s Federal Tax Code currently provides that tax forgiveness may be granted by the federal government under a limited set of extraordinary circumstances, including emergencies caused by natural disasters, plagues, or epidemics, in order to ameliorate the impacts of these events on the regions affected.

In recent years, however, tax forgiveness powers have been exercised without the existence of any of these extraordinary circumstances.

According to the proposal, several tax forgiveness orders between 2007 and 2018 were issued without any specific reason, urgent situation, or fiscal grounds that would justify writing off substantial owed tax revenue, thereby causing significant financial losses to the Mexican government.

Enactment and Implementation of the Constitutional Amendment

The presidential proposal approved by Congress included a provision to add to the Constitution a general principle forbidding the generalized and indiscriminate use of tax forgiveness. Instead, tax write-offs will be limited to cases of real necessity and regulated by the implementation of legislation within a year from the amendment’s enactment, according to congressional representative Marco Gomez Alcantar. He added that such legislation will provide the framework under which forgiveness programs will operate in the future, thus eliminating the possibility of unjustifiable tax forgiveness. Other legislators expressed support for the amendment, indicating that government finances would greatly benefit from the resources that would be paid to the government as a result of this amendment.