Mobile telephony and taxation in Latin America
This latest tax report explores the economic impact of mobile telephony and mobile-specific taxation in nine Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. It shows that the mobile industry contributed an estimated $177 billion USD to the economy, representing 3.5 per cent of GDP.
However, despite these positive socio-economic contributions, mobile consumers and operators in Latin America face a significant taxation burden. The report highlights a number of cases where mobile telephony is taxed more heavily than other sectors of the economy; for example, Brazil and Colombia impose higher sales taxes upon mobile consumers compared to other sectors, and consumer taxes account for more than a third of call charges in Brazil. Additionally, operators in some countries are subject to license fees, turnover taxes and other government-mandated fees such as property taxes. In 2011, the mobile operators and the ecosystem in Latin America paid almost $54 billion USD to national governments in taxes and regulatory fees, an increase of 30 per cent compared to $42 billion USD in 2008. The study shows that the penetration and usage of mobile services in Ecuador and Uruguay dramatically increased following the removal of mobile-specific taxes in 2007 and 2008. Conversely, in Mexico and Panama, where taxation has recently increased, penetration and usage have both contracted.