Import and export of services in Brazil, how does it work?

In Brazil, we have a complex tax system

Import and export of services in Brazil, how does it work? Import and export of services in Brazil, how does it work?

By Lucas Euzébio and Layon Lopes

The import and export of services is a very relevant topic for the company that seeks to internationalize its operation, whether hiring labor abroad or offering its services here in Brazil to other countries. This topic involves several doubts, mainly legal, since each country has its laws and taxes.

The purpose of this article is not to exhaust the topic, since it depends on a careful analysis on a case-by-case basis. However, we will bring some tips and demonstrate examples and taxes that are due in some operations.

In Brazil, we have a complex tax system. Therefore, several acronyms below may confuse you. For the most part, they are acronyms that mean some tax or tribute due in the operation.

Many businessmen ignore the fact that when importing services, the service taker from abroad must pay the IOF, PIS/COFINS, CIDE, IRRF and ISSQN levied on the referred service. That’s right, the taxes that would be paid by the foreign company, in the provision of services, if it were Brazilian, is passed on to the service taker. Such intention with this taxation is to make the services provided by Brazilian companies more attractive to the market, which often does not happen.

Many companies are surprised when they discover, during an audit or due diligence, that they have a considerable tax liability arising from non-compliance with taxes levied on the import of server services, for example, this being the most common occurrence among technology companies.

In this way, whenever the entrepreneur is going to evaluate the contracting of some service provided abroad, he must take into account the applicable taxation so that he can really be sure that the service originated outside the country is actually cheaper than the one offered internally. . Perhaps it is not, if the applicable taxation is taken into account.

As for the service export, we have good news: there will be no ISSQN, PIS/COFINS charges, but the incidence of IRPJ and CSLL remains unchanged, after all, nothing is perfect.

Regarding the IRPJ, it is possible for the company to offset the income tax (or equivalent) levied abroad, up to the limit of the income tax due by the company in Brazil. This, if your company makes use of the tax regime of Real Profit.

In other words, companies opting for the Presumed Profit tax regime cannot benefit from such compensation, unless there is an agreement between Brazil and the foreign country to avoid double taxation. In the latter case, even companies that opt ​​for the Presumed Profit tax regime can avail themselves of the benefit of compensation for income tax (or equivalent) levied abroad.

Regarding PIS and COFINS, the law determines that revenues from the export of services are exempt from PIS and COFINS. For companies subject to the non-cumulative regime, that is, those opting for the Taxable Income tax regime, there is the possibility that the credits calculated in relation to costs, expenses and charges linked to export revenues are deducted or offset against other federal debts or even reimbursed in cash. It should be noted that for the benefit of the exemption/non-levy to occur, it is necessary to enter foreign exchange as a result of payment for the exported service.

Finally, it is worth noting that the IOF – Exchange has a zero rate for exchange operations related to the inflow of revenue from the export of services.

In this way, we can conclude that: the entrepreneur must calculate the taxes due in case of importation of services; as well as that, the tax regime chosen by the company can have a great impact in case of continuous exportation of services.

Always look for your lawyer and accountant!

Layon Lopes is the CEO of Silva | Lopes and Lucas Euzébio is a member of the Silva | Lopes team.