Value-added tax (VAT)
Federal VAT (Impuesto al Valor Agregado or IVA) is a one-time tax payable by the ultimate consumer of all types of products and services. However, each business entity involved in the process, from the sale of raw materials to the production and distribution of finished products to the ultimate consumer, is required to include the tax on its products to customers (output tax) and to pay the tax on its purchases or imports of goods and services (input tax), crediting the amounts paid against the amounts due on its own activities. The net amount payable by each entity is considered to represent a tax on the value added.
In general, VAT does not represent an additional cost to business enterprises because even though all types of business enterprises, including government departments and agencies (with some exceptions), are required to accept charges of the tax by suppliers on their purchases of goods and services, such amounts are normally deductible from the liability of the business enterprises for the tax on their bills to customers.
There are exceptions, principally when the sales of an enterprise are exempt from VAT, in which case the enterprise is treated as the final consumer and must absorb any VAT charges on its purchases except insofar as its activities are subject to the zero rate (see below). However, input tax paid on goods or services used to produce items that are exempt from VAT may be deducted for CIT purposes.
In general, VAT is payable on all sales, rental, and importation of goods, and rendering of services executed or used in the country, although a number of significant exceptions are provided by law.
Sales of goods
The law defines a sale as any transmission of tangible goods, including those made on a conditional basis or through an irrevocable trust. The taxable amount of a sale includes the sale price as well as other amounts charged to the purchaser for other taxes, duties, interest, or surcharges of whatever nature. VAT becomes payable when the goods are invoiced or shipped to the customers or when the price is paid in full or in part.
Exempt sales include the following:
- Certain foods and other products for human consumption.
- Fertilisers, as well as any natural gas used in the manufacturing thereof.
- Some products for animal consumption.
- Books, magazines, newspapers, and the paper used in producing these products.
- Vehicles, aircraft, and trains for passenger transport.
- Machinery and equipment for agribusiness.
- Scientific equipment purchased by the government.
Taxable services are those rendered within Venezuela by one person to another on an independent basis, transportation of passengers or goods, agency activities, technical assistance, and transfer of technology. VAT is payable to service providers at the time the invoice is issued, the service is rendered, or the fee becomes demandable, whichever comes first. The taxable amount includes not only the price of services, but also charges to the customers for other taxes, interest, etc.
Exempt services include the following:
- Domestic land and maritime transportation of passengers.
- Educational services.
- Accommodations for students and persons with disabilities.
- Healthcare and dental services, surgery, and hospitalisation.
- Theatres, sports, and cultural events.
- Food services for employees and students.
- Certain utilities (e.g. electricity, water).
- Transport services for hydrocarbon-derived fuels.
- Services involving livestock, poultry, and other minor species, including breeding and production.
Exports are zero-rated. Consequently, VAT is not payable on exports, including exports of in-bond processing companies, technical fees to foreign residents, and sales to in-bond processing companies and companies that export their entire production. Sale of natural hydrocarbon by joint ventures regulated by the Hydrocarbon Law to the National Oil Company (PDVSA) and affiliated companies are also taxable at 0%. Though exporters do not collect VAT on export sales, they may recover VAT charges on their purchases of goods and services by means of a refund certificate. This certificate may be used to pay other tax obligations. If such exporters carry out sales in the country, they will be entitled to recover only input VAT related to foreign sales.
Additionally, a zero rate applies to independent personal services provided by residents in Venezuela that are used solely by and for the benefit of persons abroad without a PE or fixed base in Venezuela.
The rate may change every year, within the range of 8% to 16.5%.The current general VAT rate is 16%.
A 15% VAT applies to the sale and imports of luxury products (e.g. vehicles valued at 40,000 United States dollars [USD] or more, motorcycles valued at USD 20,000 or more, nickel or token game machines, aircraft used for recreational or sport purposes, jewellery valued at USD 300 or more).
An additional tax rate, subject to modification by the National Executive and ranging from five per cent (5%) to twenty five per cent (25%), applicable to goods and supply of services paid in foreign currency, cryptocurrency or crypto assets different from those issued or guaranteed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
The aforesaid additional rate is to be established by the National Executive by Decree and will be applicable if: i) the sale of movable property or supply of services taking place in the national territory, including tax exempt transactions, is paid in foreign currency, cryptocurrency or crypto assets different from those issued or guaranteed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; and ii) sales of immovable property are paid in foreign currency, cryptocurrency or crypto assets different from those issued or guaranteed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
The newly introduced additional tax rate will be effective as of thirty (30) continuous days following the publication of the Official Gazette by which the National Executive is to establish the applicable rate.
An 8% VAT applies to the following transactions:
- Goats, sheep, and minor species for slaughter or breeding.
- Meats in their natural state, or refrigerated, frozen, or salted meats, or meats in brine of goats, sheep, and poultry.
- Rendering of professional services to any government entity, in any level or branch of government, provided such services do not involve any commercial transactions but rather predominantly intellectual work or efforts.
- Domestic air passenger transportation.
Payment and collection
According to the general rule, excess VAT charged or chargeable to customers over VAT paid to vendors or customs authorities (Servicio Nacional Integrado de Administración, Aduanera y Tributaria or SENIAT), including the correspondent payment, must be remitted to SENIAT within the first 15 days of the following month.
As of 1 September 2018, the VAT monthly taxable period has been temporarily modified to a weekly basis for purposes of filing the final return and calculating the tax due for special taxpayers engaged in activities other than the exploitation of mines, hydrocarbons, and connected activities and do not derive royalty income from such exploitations. The advance VAT payment is based on the tax declared the prior week divided by the working days of the week.
High net wealth tax
The tax applies to the net worth of taxpayers qualified as special taxpayers and shall be determined on an annual basis on the value of the net worth at the end of the tax year.
Individual and corporate special taxpayers are subject to tax when their worth is equal to or higher than 150.000.000 Tax Units. Resident individuals and entities in the terms of the Constitutional Law are subject to tax on their total net-worth, regardless the place where the assets are located or the rights can be enforced, whereas non-resident taxpayers or nationals non-resident in the country are subject to tax on assets located and rights enforceable in the country. Foreign persons with a permanent establishment in the country are subject to tax on the total net-worth attributable to the permanent establishment regardless the place where the assets are located or the rights can be enforced.
Legal persons are resident when any of the following circumstances take place:
- They have been incorporated under Venezuelan laws;
- Have their tax or statutory domicile in Venezuela; or
- Have the place of effective management in Venezuela.
The annual tax period end has been provided to end on September 30 of each year. The first taxable period was that ending September 30, 2019. The applicable rate is 0.25%. The taxable basis is comprised by the sum of the total assets’ value less liabilities and excluding the value of burdens and encumbrances as well as tax- exempt assets and rights.
The return filing and payment of the tax shall be executed from October 1st and November 30 of each year. The tax shall be reported pursuant to the standards provided for such purposes in the tax authorities’ website.
As a general rule, the importation of goods into Venezuela is subject to customs duties. These duties are generally levied on the cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) value of the product being imported, excluding VAT.
Customs duty rates generally range from 5% to 35%. The duty rates vary depending on the product involved. In general, import tariffs are 5% for capital goods, 10% to 15% for raw materials and intermediate goods, and 15% to 35% for finished products. In addition, all imports are subject to customs handling charge, a duty import, and VAT.
With regard to procedural aspects, the Master Customs Law establishes two modes of customs declaration: (i) the anticipated informative declaration, only applicable to imports, and (ii) the definitive declaration for customs regime, also known as the single customs declaration. In this regard, it establishes that entities with competence for the issuance of permits and licences are to issue the corresponding documents, at least 25 business days in advance to the arrival of the merchandise, in order for importers to register the advanced informative customs declaration.
Additionally, an element has been created, named Authorised Economic Operator, who will be the company domiciled in the country, involved in the international logistic chain, which will serve as the substitute of simplified control procedures and customs clearance. With regard to the sanctioning system, pecuniary penalties applicable to transporters, porters, consolidating companies, and customs agents, as well as those applicable to infringements committed in the customs declaration of merchandise, have been increased.
See reference on the amendment on the Master Customs Law in the Significant developments section.
Tax on alcohol and alcoholic beverages
In general terms, the manufacture, commercialisation, and importation of alcohol and alcoholic beverages are subject to excise taxes. The Law of Tax on Alcohol and Alcoholic Beverages provides for three main types of excise taxes:
- Tax on the national production and importation of alcohol and alcoholic beverages, which is established on the basis of TU per litre and varies depending on the type of product.
- Additional excise tax per litre for national and imported beer and for other alcoholic beverages is levied on the sale of those products to the public, which is also provided on the basis of TU per litre, depending on the type of product.
- In addition to the above, another excise tax is imposed on the importation or local sale of national and imported alcoholic beverages to the public, which is levied on the sales price and provided on the basis of a percentage on the price of sale to the public depending on the type of product, as follows: 15% for beer, 35% for natural wines, and 50% for other beverages up to 50 grade on the Gay-Lussac scale.
The Alcohol and Alcoholic Species Tax Law specifies the time of payment of the tax as follows: (i) for importers, at the moment the merchandise is nationalised and (ii) for producers, upon withdrawal of the products from the establishment.
Tax on cigarettes and manufacturing of tobacco
The importation and national production of cigarettes and tobacco, fine cuts, and other tobacco derivatives to be consumed in Venezuela is subject to an excise tax. This proportional tax is levied at a rate of 70% on the retail price of cigarettes, tobacco, and its derivatives. As per the Cigarette and Tobacco Manufacturing Tax Law, produced and imported taxable products for zones under the Territorial Customs Regime, duty free shops, and special development regions shall also be subject to tax.
The time of payment of tax on cigarettes and manufacturing of tobacco is as follows: (i) for national production, before the products are removed from the manufacturing establishments and (ii) for imports, at the time of customs declaration.
Urban Property Tax
The Urban Property Tax is a local or municipal tax payable by any person who owns property rights or any other real rights on urban real estates. The taxable basis is the value of the urban real estate. For these purposes, the fair market value of the real estate is provided as a point of reference. The applicable rate varies according to each municipality.
Public registry tax
Commercial companies are registered with the Mercantile Registry Office and are subject to a tax levied upon incorporation of a company and registration of capital increases. The tax is 1% of the amounts of subscribed or increased capital.
The sale of a going concern is also registered in the Mercantile Registry Office and is subject to a tax levied upon the total amount of the sell. The tax is 2% of the amount.
The Stamp Duties Law establishes a number of stamp duties on the issuance of official documents (e.g. certificates, permits, authorisations, registrations). Stamp duties may be levied at fixed amounts (ranging from TU 0.01 to TU 10,000) or at a rate based on the value of the transaction or work in question and vary depending on the jurisdiction.
District Capital stamp tax
The District Capital stamp tax on subscribed or increased capital of companies is 2%.
Tax on Large Financial Transactions
Taxpayers for the purposes of the Tax on Large Financial Transactions comprise:
- Entities qualified as ‘special taxpayers’ by the tax authorities, for payments made from their accounts in banks or financial institutions and payments that do not involve financial institutions (debt offsetting, debtor or creditor substitution, and debt forgiveness).
- Entities related to those qualified as ‘special taxpayers’ for the above-indicated transactions.
- Individuals and entities acting on behalf of ‘special taxpayers’ for the above-indicated transactions.
Special taxpayers are comprised of individuals and entities with specific characteristics with regard to income level or type of activity and have been designated as such by the tax authorities by notification.
The tax applies, among others, to the following transactions:
- Debits made in bank accounts, or any other deposit instrument, held in financial entities.
- Transfer of securities as of the second endorsement.
- Acquisition of cashier’s check.
- Cross-border payments
- Payments of debts obligations (even if not executed through the formal financial system).
As of 19 November 2018, the applicable rate is 2% on the total bank debit or taxable transaction.
Certain transactions involving state-issued securities, payments of taxes, and transfer of funds among same-holder accounts are exempted from this tax.
The tax is not deductible for Venezuelan income tax purposes.
The tax due shall be determined on a daily basis.
Overall, the Inheritance and Donations Tax Law, published on 1999, stipulates the taxes attributable to inheritances left by individuals. Nonetheless, this Law provides regulation about donations, which are significant to corporations. Subject to payment of the gift tax are the beneficiaries of gifts in the form of movable or real property, rights, or shares located in the country.
For tax calculation purposes, the progressive tax rate (up to 55%) set forth in the Law will be applied to the donated good. Both donors and donees are jointly liable for the tax generated from the gift.
The gift tax is applicable from the time in which the donors manifest before the National Treasury their will to donate and must be paid before the registration of any document formalising or evidencing the authenticity of the gift. Should the donation not be perfected due to express will of the donor or rejection on the part of the donee, the obligation to pay the tax will be eliminated and reimbursement may be requested of the amounts paid in this connection.
Under the transfer pricing rules contained in the VITL, the tax authorities are empowered to impute income in inter-company transactions at a price reflecting the fair market value of the property being transferred.
Before the introduction of transfer pricing rules, under the Inheritance and Donations Tax Law, the tax authorities could and still can presume in transactions involving a sale, assignment, barter, or transfer, the existence of a donation if, for instance, the price stipulated in such transaction does not reflect the real value of the property being transacted. In such a case, a gift tax may be imposed on the difference between the fair market value of the property being transacted and the consideration received in return.
Also, a cancellation of a debt gives rise to gift tax issues. In this regard, the Inheritance and Donations Tax Law provides that the total or partial forgiveness or cancellation of a loan must be viewed as a gift and, as such, is subject to gift tax.
Windfall tax on oil production
The windfall tax on oil companies is provided in the following terms:
- The contribution on extraordinary oil prices is a 20% tax on the difference in price when the internationally quoted price per barrel exceeds the budgeted price per barrel (for purposes of the Venezuelan Annual Budget Law), provided that the quoted price per barrel is equivalent or lower than USD 80 per barrel (i.e. the maximum basis is the difference between USD 80 per barrel and the current budgeted price of USD 55).
- The contribution on exorbitant oil prices is comprised of the following:
- 80% tax on income generated by quoted oil prices between USD 80 and USD 100 per barrel (i.e. 80% on the range from USD 80 to USD 100 quoted price per barrel).
- 90% tax on the difference in the quoted oil prices between USD 100 and USD 110 per barrel.
- 95% tax on the difference over the threshold of USD 110 per barrel.
The tax is payable by oil companies exporting with sale purposes. Also, the mixed companies (empresas mixtas) created in accordance with the Master Hydrocarbons Law that sell oil and by-products to PDVSA, or any of its affiliates, are also obligated to pay the above-described tax.
On the other hand, tax exemption is provided for the following cases:
- For mixed companies when their activities are the result of the performance of projects for new developments of reservoirs, enhanced production, or projects to remediate production, declared as such by the Ministry of the Popular Power for Petroleum and Mining, until they have recovered their total investment. Parameters to determine the volumes exempted are to be separately established by the aforesaid Ministry by Resolution.
- Exports executed in connection with cooperation or financing international agreements.
The tax is payable on a monthly basis in foreign currency. Other terms of payments are to be regulated by Resolution.
Additionally, USD 80 per barrel is the maximum price to be used as the calculation basis for the payment of royalties, extraction tax, and export registration tax provided for in the Master Hydrocarbons Law.
Hydrocarbons Organic Law
The state is entitled to 30% of the volume of hydrocarbons extracted from any deposit, by way of royalties. The National Executive can reduce this within certain limits, when it is shown that certain types of deposits are not economically exploitable.. On December 19 of 2019, changes on the calculation basis of the royalties were announced.
Persons conducting activities related to hydrocarbons must pay the following taxes:
For the portion of the surface area granted that is not under development, the equivalent of TU 100 for each square kilometre or portion of a square kilometre for every elapsed year is due as a surface tax. This tax will increase annually by 2% during the first five years and 5% during the following years.
Tax on own consumption
10% of the value of each cubic metre of hydrocarbon by-products produced and consumed as fuel in wholly-owned operations, based on the price of the end consumer, is due as a tax. In the case that said product fails to be sold in a domestic market, the Ministry of Energy and Mines shall provide the price.
Gaseous Hydrocarbons Organic Law
The Gaseous Hydrocarbons Organic Law establishes a system of royalties, determinable by the volumes of gaseous hydrocarbons extracted from any deposit and not re-injected. The state is also entitled to a 20% share for this item.
The Law also provides that additional legislation may obligate these entities to pay taxes on hydrocarbons consumed, such as fuel. However, no additional regulations have been enacted for enforcement of this obligation.
Additional taxes are provided for in the licence agreements, which vary for each particular case.
Taxes and contributions on telecommunication activities
Taxes on telecommunication activities
Telecommunication services providers are subject to tax on the provision of sound and television broadcasting as well as other telecommunication services. The tax is levied on gross income from the telecommunication activity. The applicable rate in case of sound and television broadcasting is 1% where as other telecommunication services are subject to tax at 2.3%.
The exploitation of orbital resources and associated portions of the radio spectrum, as well as the supply of satellite capacity to authorised operators for the provision of telecommunication services, are subject to a 0.5% tax on the amount billed or collected for supply of satellite capacity.
Contribution to the National Telecommunications Commission
Telecommunication services providers are subject to a 0.5% special contribution on gross income generated from telecommunication activities. The contribution must be paid to the National Telecommunications Commission.
Users of the radio electrical spectrum are subject to an annual contribution for administration and control that may not exceed 0.5% of the user’s gross revenues. In case of users engaged in rendering sound and television broadcasting services, the contribution shall not exceed 0.2% of the gross revenues.
Contribution to the Universal Service Fund
Telecommunication services providers, except sound and television broadcasters, are subject to the payment of a 1% contribution on gross revenues to the Universal Services Fund.
Contribution to the Telecommunications Research and Development Fund (FIDETEL)
Telecommunication services providers, except sound and television broadcasters, are subject to the payment of a 0.50% contribution on gross revenues to FIDETEL.
Contribution according to Law of Social Responsibility in radio, television and electronic means
Suppliers of sound and television broadcasting services are subject to a contribution to the Fund of Social Responsibility for the broadcasting of images and sounds in the national territory. The contribution is levied at a rate of 4% of gross revenues caused on a quarterly basis. The rate is subject to adjustment on the basis of particular circumstances.
Science, technology, and innovation contribution
The Law on Science, Technology, and Innovation (LOCTI), establishes a mandatory contribution to be paid by companies that obtained, in the previous fiscal year, over TU 100,000 in gross income.
The kind of companies that are required to pay this contribution are stock companies, limited liability companies, partnerships, communities, irregular associations, associations, foundations, and PEs or fixed bases located inside or outside the national territory with current activities in Venezuela.
Contributions established in the LOCTI are as follows:
- Contributions made from companies related to bingos and casinos activities, alcoholic drinks, or tobacco: The companies engaged in activities related to bingos and casinos, alcoholic drinks, or tobacco must contribute annually the equivalent of 2% of gross income.
- Contributions made by private companies engaged in hydrocarbon or mining activities: The companies that are engaged in hydrocarbon activities, including gaseous hydrocarbons, or mining activities, must contribute the equivalent amount of 1% of gross income.
- Contributions made by companies engaged in other economic activities: These companies must contribute annually the equivalent of 0.5% of gross income.
- The company that performs activities with two different percentages will apply the highest one.
The National Fund for Science, Technology, and Innovation (FONACIT) is the entity responsible for the administration, collection, control, verification, and qualitative and quantitative determination of the contributions.
The contribution must be paid to FONACIT during the second quarter after the end of the corresponding fiscal year.
Contribution to support Organic Law on Sports, Physical Activity, and Physical Education
The purpose of the Organic Law on Sports, Physical Activity, and Physical Education (Sports Law) is to establish the public service nature of physical education and the promotion, organisation, and administration of sports and physical activity, as well as their organisation as an economic activity with social aims.
The provision of the Sports Law are of a public nature and are applicable to the public national, state, and municipal administration and organisations, and also to individuals and legal entities that conduct any activity related to the practice, promotion, organisation, sponsorship, administration, or any economic activity associated with sports or physical activities and education.
The Sports Law creates the National Fund for the Development of Sports, Physical Activity, and Physical Education, which will be constituted with the contributions made by companies or other public or private organisations that perform economic activities for profit in the country; by donations, gifts, or any other special contribution made by the Republic, the states, the municipalities, or any other public or private entity; and by the revenue produced by such funds.
The contribution is 1% of the annual net of accounting profit and is payable by all companies or other public or private organisations that perform economic activities within the country and obtain an annual net or accounting profit of more than TU 20,000. Up to 50% of the contribution can be for the implementation of the taxpayer's own projects, provided the respective project follows the guidelines to be issued by the National Sports Institute, which will be updated every two years.
The Organic Drug Law stipulates that any company employing 50 or more employees must make an annual contribution from their operating profit equivalent to 1%. On the other hand, corporations with the specifications mentioned before but that are dedicated to the manufacture or import of alcohol beverages, tobacco, or their mixtures are required to make a contribution equivalent of 2% from their operating profit. Under the definitions established by this Law, operating profit can be understood as the result from subtracting the operating expenses from the income profit in accordance with the accepted Venezuelan general accounting principles.
This contribution will be collected by the National Anti-Drug Fund (FONA) within 60 continuous days counted from the end of the fiscal year.
Note that this contribution can be retrieved if the company performs:
- prevention programs and projects intended for the company employees and their family environment
- prevention programs for children and adolescents, or
- programs to fight drug trafficking.
Payroll taxes and other contributions
Contributions applicable to resident companies in Venezuela:
|Contributions||Basis||Contribution basis (cap)||Employer contributions (%)||Employee contributions (%)||Notes|
|Mandatory social security regime contribution||Wages (normal or regular wages)||Up to five minimum salaries for urban workers||9/10/11||4||(1, 2, 5)|
|Employment benefit regime contribution||Wages (normal or regular wages)||Up to ten minimum salaries for urban workers||2||0.5||(1)|
|Housing regime contribution||Total monthly (or integral) salary||No cap (5, 6)||2||1||(5, 6)|
|Employee training contribution (INCES)||Total salaries paid by the employer for purposes of the employer's contribution.||No cap||2||0.5 (4)||(3, 4)|
|Workplace prevention, conditions, and environment contribution (LOPCYMAT)||Total salaries paid to employees||No cap is established||From 0.75 to 10||N/A||(7, 8)|
- The increase of the minimum monthly salary to VES 250,000 was published in the Official N°6502 on 9 January 2020.
- The employer's contribution to social security depends on the company's risk qualification (minimum risk, middle risk, or maximum risk).
- Regarding Instituto Nacional de Capacitación y Educación Socialista (INCES) contribution, the employer must contribute 2% of the total wages and salaries paid to employees.
- Employers are also required to withhold 0.5% of the annual profit-sharing bonus paid to employees.
- According to the Ley Orgánica del Sistema de Seguridad Social (LOSSS), the general rule for contribution basis for the new systems may not exceed ten minimum salaries. The transition rules establish a contribution basis of five metropolitan minimum salaries for urban workers for social security purposes. No cap is expressly established in the transition rules for the housing system and work, security, and health regime.
- The basis of calculation of the housing contributions is the ‘Integral Salary’. The Integral Salary is a concept established in the Organic Labour Law, and it comprises the following payments: commissions, gratifications, profit sharing bonuses, vacation bonus as well as surcharges for holidays, overtime, night shifts, among others, all of which are made to the employee and correspond to the services rendered by the individual.
- Contributions to be made to this regime are exclusively for the employer and vary depending on the risk associated to the company. A company's risk is to be determined by the Instituto Nacional de Prevención, Salud y Seguridad Laborales (INPSASEL).
- Ley Orgánica de Prevención, Condiciones y Medio Ambiente de Trabajo (LOPCYMAT) regulations do not establish a cap for the contribution. However, as mentioned, the LOSSS establishes a maximum of the minimum urban salaries. For this reason, there are several contrary interpretations on whether a cap should be applied in this case.
|Other contributions (see above)||Basis||Contribution basis (cap)||Employer contributions (%)||Employee contributions (%)|
|Science, technology, and innovation contribution (LOCTI) (1)||Total annual income||N/A||0.50/1/2||N/A|
|Anti-drug contribution (LOD) (2)||Operating profit||N/A||1/2 (3)||N/A|
- Ley Orgánica de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (LOCTI).
- Ley Orgánica de Drogas (LOD).
- 2% in the case of companies that manufacture or import alcohol beverages or tobacco. 1% for companies that employ 50 or more employees.
Municipal business licence tax
Companies and business entities, as well as individuals and unincorporated companies, are subject to municipal tax on gross income from industrial or trade activities carried on in the municipality during the fiscal year. The rates range from 0.1% to 10.0%, depending on the activity and the municipality.
Other municipal taxes
Municipalities also tax vehicles, public entertainment, legal bets, and commercial advertisements. There are also various municipal tariffs and fees.