New Panama legislature enacts tax moratorium

The new tax moratorium gives an amnesty on fines on overdue taxes when paid before 2010 The new Panama administration of President Ricardo Martinelli has taken its first major tax initiative by enacting Law 45 of 2009 whereby a moratorium is granted for payment of national taxes collected by Directorate General of Revenue ( Under the law, taxpayers are exempt from paying surcharges, interest and fines on unpaid taxes due by June 30, 2009, if they pay at least 30% of said taxes and agree to pay the rest before September 1 within a period of 6 monhts. Tax payment plans signed after September 1 but before December 31 still would qualify for a exemption of fines and 75% discounts on surcharges and/or interest. Such a tax plan would benefit owners of corporations and private interest foundations formed in Panama who must pay a US$300 annual tax called "Tasa Unica". While Panama corporations and private interest foundations doing business outside of Panama do not have to pay Panama income tax, they still have to pay the US$300 annual tax. Article 318A of the Tax Code also imposes a US$50 fine for every annual tax paid late and a US$300 surcharge after 2 years of delay in payments. Article 3 of the 2001 Supreme Court of Justice Schedule for Legal Services further provides every year for a US$250 Resident Agent Fee and a US$150 nominee director fee. Lombardi Aguilar & Garcia ( partner Alvaro Aguilar AlfĂș finds the moratorium to be useful for investors using Panama entities. "Even if the names of corporate shareholders and private foundation beneficiaries are disclosed to their resident agents under privacy rules, changes in the charter and board of directors must be registered with the public registry. Local laws require that all annual tax payments be up to date when filing said changes, so the moratorium would allow owners of these entities to save on the fines and surcharges which would otherwise have to be paid after 2010," said Aguilar. The moratorium also covers property taxes due for ownership of real estate at rates of up to 2.1% of the registered value. "Unlike other countries, Panama authorities do not mail or deliver tax statements so property taxes - along with surcharges, fines and interest - may be accumulating without the owner knowing," Aguilar points out. "Many foreign buyers have purchased real estate in Panama, either directly or by purchasing shares of landholding companies or foundations, so this is a good time to ask the local Panama tax office for a statement to pay taxes due without fines and ask counsel in their country of origin about other tax compliance and filing requirements". About Lombardi Aguilar & Garcia Lombardi Aguilar & Garcia was created as an alternative for clients worldwide who seek fast, innovative and effective solutions to their legal problems. The firm currently provides services to individual and corporate clients in Panama as well in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Its partners maintain a commitment with professional ethics and social responsibility by participating in the board of directors of groups such as the Panama Bar Association, the German and the American Chambers of Commerce (AMCHAM) of Panama, and the Association of Chinese-Panamanian Professionals (APROCHIPA). The firm centers its law practice in private client services and asset protection (Private Interest Foundations, Trusts), business structures (Offshore Corporations), tax planning, real estate and e-commerce. It also advices in areas of Law such as Corporate, Commercial, Intellectual Property, Maritime, Tax, and Immigration Law as well as related litigation that may arise. This release has been prepared for information purposes only. It is not intended to be nor do they constitute legal advice, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. For more information, contact +507 340-6444, e-mail aaguilar (at), or see: Lombardi Aguilar & Garcia

New Panama legislature enacts tax moratorium Tue, Sep 8, 2009