Carta Porte will be a logistical challenge in Mexico
Ángel Escalante Carpio and Juan Manuel Morán of Escalante & Asociados discuss a new tool to tackle smuggling and informal trade in Mexico, which imposes a significant burden on taxpayers.
In recent years, the Mexican tax authority has made several efforts to increase collection and improve efficiency by implementing multiple digital tools.
As part of this effort, in late 2021, the obligation to issue a Carta Porte document was included in the Omnibus Tax Bill as a countermeasure against smuggling and informal trade that badly hurt tax collection.
What is the Carta Porte?
The Carta Porte serves as a tax receipt for the transportation of merchandise within national territory (i.e., air, road, train or sea). It must be incorporated in the corresponding invoice, irrespective of whether the transportation is carried out by a service provider or directly by the owner of the goods. It even serves as proof of the legal stay or possession of imported goods in the Mexican territory.
As mentioned above, the Carta Porte must be incorporated in the invoice for the transportation of goods. It must include specific information regarding the transported goods, the vehicle in which they are transported, the route taken and the customs declaration (pedimento) if applicable.
This entails a significant administrative burden for both carriers and the companies that hire them. According to the law, both are jointly responsible for ensuring that the Carta Porte is attached to each transportation service invoiced. In addition, with the entry into force of this transportation document, services can no longer be invoiced together, but an invoice must be issued for each one separately.
Companies (mainly carriers) will have to adapt their systems to issue this document automatically in each operation and commercial relationship with their customers. This implies the investment of a large amount of resources since such systems are usually standardised and adjusted to a company’s activity.
In other words, anyone whose activities are related to or involve the transportation of goods will have to adapt their systems to issue the Carta Porte. It will likely be complicated for small companies to comply with the new obligations, as they may not have sufficient financial capacity to invest in these adjustments and could, in some cases, be forced to abandon their businesses.
Failure to issue and carry the Carta Porte during the transportation of the goods could result in fines that range from MX$400 to MX$97,330 (approximately US$19-$4,800) as well as making it impossible to give tax effects to the corresponding invoices. In extreme cases, failure to comply could even lead to the seizure of the merchandise if the authority presumes that contraband is involved.
The obligation to issue the Carta Porte came into force in January 2022. However, given the complexities of the matter, the tax authority has issued a series of administrative facilities to help taxpayers to comply with this obligation. These allow the document to be issued with errors without the imposition of fines for a limited period of time, with the objective to allow taxpayers to update and adjust their infrastructure to duly comply with the obligation.
The constant changes in the rules around this document has caused confusion, with some taxpayers believing that there is no obligation to issue the Carta Porte until further notice, though the obligation is already in force. Not complying with issuing and carrying it, or presenting mistakes in the document, could lead to the consequences described above.
The adjustment period granted by the tax authority was supposed to end by March 31 2022. However, on March 9 it issued an extension to the period in which taxpayers can issue the Carta Porte without sanctions even if there are errors in the filed information, up until September 30 2022.
Make sure you comply
The issuing of the Carta Porte is an obligation that is already in force, affecting everyone whose activities involve the transportation of goods even by their own means.
It will eventually be the subject of fines and tax audits in which the tax authority could even question the tax effects of transportation invoices that do not include it.
As a result, we recommend everyone affected to seek advice to understand all the legal options within their reach, as well as how to comply with the obligation in the way that best suits their needs.
Ángel Escalante Carpio
Founding partner, Escalante & Asociados
Juan Manuel Morán
Senior associate, Escalante & Asociados