Value-added tax (VAT)
Uruguayan VAT is levied at a general rate of 22% on the provision of services and on the circulation of goods within the limits of the Uruguayan territory. The import of goods and value-added in regard to the construction of immovable assets are also within the scope of this tax.
The following items (among others) are either subject to a reduced 10% VAT rate or exempt from VAT entirely.
Items subject to the 10% VAT rate:
- Food and medicines.
- Hotel services.
- Health services.
- The first sale of immovable assets.
Items exempt from VAT:
- Agricultural machinery.
- Certain bank services.
Exports are zero rated for VAT purposes. VAT on purchases of the exporters can be recovered in the form of credit certificates that can be (i) used to pay other taxes, (ii) used to pay social security contributions, or (iii) endorsed to suppliers who can pay their own national taxes or their own social security contributions.
According to Law N° 19,210 of financial inclusion and electronic payment means and its regulations, the VAT rate has been reduced for the disposal of goods and services made to final consumers, provided that payment is made through debit cards or electronic money instruments. The current rate reduction results in a VAT rate of 18% when the transaction does not exceed approximately 16,000 Uruguayan pesos (UYU), and a 20% rate for operations above this value.
VAT requires monthly payments and may require monthly or annual tax returns, depending on the qualification of the taxpayer.
- Consular Duty: the rate is 3% for products with Mercosur Origin and 5% for products originated in the rest of the world. The rate applicable to automobiles is 5%, regardless of their origin. Products originated in Mexico, as well as products introduced to Uruguay in the framework of the temporary admission regime, and capital goods with a destination in the industrial, agricultural, and fisheries sectors, are exempt from the Consular Duty.
- Customs Services Duty: 0.2%, with a maximum of 50 United States dollars (USD).
- Customs Extraordinary Duty: A scale flat duty, with a limit of USD 600.
- Global Customs Duty (TGA): Depends on the origin of goods. If the products are originated in a Mercosur member country, the TGA is generally zero (in particular cases, the payment of the TGA still applies). If not (i.e. not Mercosur origin), it varies depending on the type of product, with a maximum rate of 35%. For goods classified as 'fixed assets' and 'information and telecommunication goods', there is a special regime that, in general terms, foresees lower TGAs.
All imports and exports duties are applied on the ‘customs value’ (in general, in imports it is considered as cost, insurance, and freight [CIF] and in exports as free on board [FOB]).
On imports, VAT is also applicable according to the following detail:
- Goods subject to the general VAT rate (22%):
- ‘Import VAT’ at the rate of 22%.
- ‘Advanced payment import VAT’ at a rate of 10%.
- Goods subject to the reduced VAT rate (10%):
- ‘Import VAT’ at the rate of 10%.
- ‘Advanced payment import VAT’ at a rate of 3%.
The tax base of VAT on imports is the customs value plus the customs duties.
Additionally, some goods are also subject to an ‘advanced payment import on account of CIT’ at a rate of 4% or 15%, depending on the type of good, which can be deducted from the amount of CIT for the fiscal year.
Exports are not subject to any taxes, and there are almost no prohibitions regarding the type of goods to be exported. On the contrary, several instruments are offered to promote exports, such as the reimbursement of taxes. For VAT on exports, please see VAT above.
The exporter may also recover internal taxes that are added to the cost of the products exported. The amount to be reimbursed is a percentage (3% or 6%, depending on the type of product) of the FOB value.
Additionally, temporary admission consists of the import of raw materials, pieces, motors, package material, and other industrial input without import duties or taxes. To be subject to this customs duties exemption, the company has to export the finished goods within 18 months from the introduction of the exempt goods or materials. The subsequent local sale of such finished goods is not entitled to this benefit.
Excise tax (IMESI)
In general, excise tax applies on the first transaction effected in the domestic market by manufacturers or importers of goods. Exports are not taxable.
Excise tax rates vary for each item, and they are generally fixed by the government within maximum parameters established by law.
Goods subject to the highest rates are alcoholic beverages (from 20.20% to 80%, depending on the alcohol degree), tobacco (from 28% to 70%), lubricants (from 5% to 35%), and gasoline, fuel, and other petroleum products (from 5% to 133%).
This tax requires monthly payments and/or tax returns.
Net wealth tax (NWT)
All types of legal entities and business enterprise owners are subject to an annual NWT at a rate of 1.5% on the value of net assets. This tax also follows the source principle, whereby only assets located or economically used in Uruguay are taxable. Taxpayers may deduct from the NWT the CIT of the same fiscal year; however, the deduction is currently capped at 1% of the NWT.
The deduction of liabilities from the amount of taxable assets to determine the NWT basis is limited to: (i) the average of debts with local financial institutions, (ii) debts with suppliers of goods (except imports) and services, (iii) taxes not yet due, (iv) debts with governments, international credit offices of which Uruguay is a member and with foreign state financial institutions that lend funds for long-term productive projects, and (v) debts documented in debentures and obligations if their emission is done in a public offering and such papers are quoted in a stock exchange.
Regarding taxes of relevance for those doing business in Uruguay, please see Net wealth tax (NWT) above. There are additional property taxes of less significance, levied by Municipal authorities (e.g. Contribución Inmobiliaria) and by National authorities (e.g. Primary School Tax [Impuesto de Primaria]).
Note that the Primary School Tax levied on rural assets has been re-established.
Tax on real estate transfer (ITP)
A tax on real estate transfer applies to the transfer of immovable assets. Transfer is defined in an ample sense, as a sale, a cession of the right to use, a transfer of inheritance rights, etc.
Both parties to the transfer contract are subject to this tax at a rate of 2% on the property’s tax value (according to a National Register, a value generally lower than market value). When the property is transferred without payment, the beneficiary pays tax at a rate of 4% on the property tax valuation, except in instances where the property is transferred to direct heirs or legatees, who pay this tax at a rate of 3%.
The transmissions of taxable assets that take place as a result of the replacement or removal of trustees is excluded from this tax.
Stamp taxes are not applicable in Uruguay.
Tax of control of corporations (ICOSA)
Upon the set-up of a corporation, a tax is payable at a 1.5% rate on a notional basis amount, which is determined annually by the authorities. For fiscal year 2019, the amount of this tax (lump sum) is UYU 34,940.
This tax is also due annually for corporations at the end of each fiscal year, at a rate of 0.75% on said notional amount. Even though this tax can be deducted from the NWT, the excess cannot be refunded, acting as a minimum NWT payment. For fiscal year 2019, the amount of this tax (lump sum) is UYU 17,470.
Individual income taxes applicable on employees’ remunerations must be withheld by the employer.
Social security contributions
The Uruguayan Social Security regime states that hiring personnel under a dependency relationship implicates the obligation (both for employer and employee) of making contributions over the compensations that constitute the taxable basis.
Taxable basis consists of all earning that in a regular and permanent basis, in cash or kind, susceptible to pecuniary appreciation, is perceived by the dependant personnel, in concept of remuneration and product of its personal activity, in the frame of the working relationship. As a general rule, any compensation originated in activities carried out in Uruguay is subject to social security contributions.
The social security contribution rates are applicable on gross remunerations, according to the following percentages:
|Contribution||Employer contributions (%)||Employee contributions (%)|
|Retirement contributions (1)||7.5||15|
|Health insurance||5||3/4.5/5/6/6.5/8 (2)|
|Labour restructuring fund (3)||0.1||0.1|
|Labour Credit Guarantee Fund (4)||0.025||0|
|Total social security contributions||12.625||18.1 to 23.1|
- Both employer and employee retirement contributions rates are applicable, up to the monthly amount of UYU 173,539 (until 31 December 2019); the exceeding amount will be exempt.
- May vary depending on whether the employee is married and whether they have children.
- Rate reduction applicable as of January 2019.
- New employer contribution as of January 2019.