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18 September 2020

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Argentina Introduces Additional Tax on Foreign Currency Purchases

Argentina has published General Resolution 4815/2020 of 15 September 2020. The Resolution provides for a 35% tax in addition to the tax on foreign currency purchases (Impuesto Para una Argentina Inclusiva y Solidaria - PAIS tax), which was introduced by Law 27.541 on Social Solidarity and Productive Reactivation and regulated by General Resolution 4659/2020 (previous coverage). The reason for the additional tax is largely due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting tax policy measures that have led to a reduction in tax revenue. According to the Resolution, the fiscal efforts in response to COVID-19 should be shared by different economic sectors, including those that can purchase foreign currency and pay expenses in foreign currency, which "constitutes an indicator of taxable capacity".

The PAIS tax was introduced at a rate of 30% and is withheld on acquisitions of foreign currency and when a transaction is paid in Argentine pesos and requires the acquisition of foreign currency (an 8% rate applies for digital services subject to 21% VAT). The additional 35% tax introduced by General Resolution 4815/2020 applies to the same operations as the PAIS tax, with the same collection/withholding agent requirements.

However, several exemptions are provided by General Resolution 4815/2020, including with respect to:

  • Expenses related to health benefits, purchase of medicines, purchase of books in any format, and the use of educational platforms and software for educational purposes;
  • Expenses associated with research projects carried out by researchers who work in the sphere of the national State, provincial States, the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the municipalities, as well as the universities and institutions that are members of the Argentine university system; and
  • Acquisition abroad of equipment, materials, and other goods intended for firefighting and civil protection of the population by entities recognized in Law No. 25.054 and its amendments.

The additional 35% tax is essentially considered an advance on income tax and personal assets tax and if it exceeds the amount of income tax and personal assets tax to be paid, the excess may be refunded. Provisions are also made for a refund of the tax to persons who are not taxpayers of income tax or personal assets tax. Such persons are allowed to request a refund once the calendar year in which the tax was withheld is ended.

General Resolution 4815/2020 entered into force on 16 September 2020 and is effective from that date.

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