This month we are introducing the innovations of the new 2022 Finance law in Cameroon. This discussion will be centered on the review of fiscal measures put in place to broaden the tax base which in effect ameliorates the business climate in Cameroon. The discussion will be shared over 6 parts during the course of this month. Part 1 of this piece introduces the new finance law of 2022 and generally encapsulates the regulatory framework of the law and its effect on the fiscal regime and on some commercial sectors like the oil sector.
PART 1- INTRODUCTION
In Cameroon, when finance laws are promulgated, they are generally interpreted within the framework of an explanatory circular prepared by the Director-General of Taxes. On 11 January 2022, the Director-General of Customs signed the Explanatory Circular N 007/MINFI/DGD. This circular stipulates the modalities of the application of the customs provisions Law No. 2021/016 of 16 December 2021, to lay down the finance law of the Republic of Cameroon for the year 2022.
Whilst the explanatory circular of the Director-General of Taxes with regards to tax matters still pends. the finance law which came into force in January 2022, presents a tidying-up operation in several areas of economic life.
It should be noted that this new finance law targets specific objectives such as economic revival, protection of industrial activity, and taxation.
The new measures contained in the new finance law concern four main areas, including; taxation of commercial enterprises, tax controls and litigation, import and export operations, and the taxation of non-professional organizations.
THE TAXATION OF COMMERCIAL COMPANIES
Commercial companies are those which permanently engage in commercial activities as their main business. These activities may include trading (buying and selling), industry (production and processing), all types of transport, and other related operations like agriculture.
This article highlights how the new finance law affects the regulatory framework of commercial enterprises such as; the oil, maritime transport, finance, and agriculture sectors
A- Oil sector companies
In the oil sector, the new finance law confirms an exemption and brings an adjustment in the taxation of the Special Income Tax (“SIT”) of oil companies in the development phase.
Indeed, the exemption from the SIT is granted by Cameroonian law on the remuneration of services provided to the holders of oil contracts and their subcontractors, provided that the foreign service provider does not have a permanent establishment in Cameroon and that the invoicing is done at cost price. The notion of cost price here refers to the price of a product set by the seller through which the seller agrees not to make a profit, by not taking any margin. This price is generally constituted as a call price. In the oil sector, any supplier has the obligation, if they do not wish to be subject to the SIT, to sell their services at cost price, without making a profit margin, since the SIT as its name indicates that it is paid on income. This is because it represents a tax on the income of foreign companies that do not have a base in Cameroon, but that offer services to oil companies under Cameroonian law.
Beyond this exemption, other measures applicable to oil companies concern the reduction of the SIT rate. The different rates of the SIT were fixed by article 25 of the General Tax Code as follows; General rate 15%, Average rate 10%, Reduced rate 5%, Super reduced rate 2%.
Progressively, the taxation of SIT which was 15% for oil companies in the research and development phase when the services were not provided at cost price, was reduced to 5% in 2018. With the 2022 finance law being established, the rate of SIT on research and development operations is now reduced from 5% to 3%, regardless of the affiliation between the Cameroonian company and the foreign company to which the remuneration is paid.
By enshrining this VAT exemption, the objective under article 225(5) in the new General Tax Code, the Finance Law is to harmonize the latter with the Cameroonian Petroleum Code, which states that “For the conduct of petroleum research and development operations, petroleum contract holders and their subcontractors shall be exempt from the payment of the Special Tax on Income provided for by the General Tax Code..” according to Article 110 al 2 of law N2016/008 of April 25th, 2019 on the petroleum code. Moreover, these measures of exemption and reduction of the rate of the SIT also aim to reduce the tax burden of companies in the research and development phase, and the revival of oil research activities.
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