Electronic Tax Audits For Maquiladoras
The Mexican government has declared as legal all electronic audits performed by the tax authorities on foreign trade operations of maquiladoras.
Starting on 2012, the Mexican customs authorities started working on the training and development of tax agencies with expertise in customs audits, and on the legislative changes required to implement electronic audits and operations. Five years have passed and from our point of view, maquiladoras are not ready for electronic audits. This is mainly due to the complexity of the process, which involve legal compliance on day to day operations. In short, it is now easier for the tax authorities to audit maquiladoras.
The system used by the tax authorities to perform electronic audits will use all the data and/or documentation uploaded in said system by maquiladoras, same which they are required to upload as a part of their regular compliance activities. This data and/or documentation includes notifications, certifications and import/export information. Such information is placed by the tax authorities in electronic databases controlled and if there is any discrepancy or non-compliance, the authorities will immediately detect the deviation and notify the company. The main difference between the classic audits and the electronic audits is that now the authorities are not starting from zero: with the electronic audits, the electronic system will detect the flaws, will automatically sanction the specific deviation and assess the tax credit, if applicable.
To avoid customs liabilities (which may be substantial), maquiladoras will need to fully comply with their foreign trade obligations established by the applicable customs regulations. Compliance although obvious, is not easily accomplished in practice. Maquiladoras as manufacturing entities, are governed by many legal provisions such as those dealing with import/export processes, legal stay, possession and/or tenancy of goods and fixed assets, customs regimes, VAT certification maintenance, among others. These provisions are directly related with electronic compliance and their incorrect analysis, interpretation and testing will result in considerable penalties. To ensure that your company is fully protected against electronic audits, we recommend at the very least, quarterly reviews performed by our customs department.