On the 27th of December 2022, the president of the Republic of Cameroon promulgated Law No. 2022/020 of 27 December 2022 which is the Finance law for the year 2023. The distinctive nature of this document is highlighted in its innovations which are focused on the taxation of businesses and households. Although this law grants tax exemptions to boost the productive sector, the Cameroonian government has also given itself the latitude to increase tax revenues.
As a result of the adverse global economic situation stirred in particular by the war in Ukraine and the continuation of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan, the government has put out these innovations in the finance law in order to secure the sustainability of public finances.
Among the innovative sources for broadening the tax base, the Finance Law of 2023 establishes the Special Tax on Petroleum Products (“STPP”) on natural gas for industrial use. As of January 1, 2023, Natural Gas will be subject to the STPP at a symbolic rate of CFA 70 per m3.
There was also the adjustment of stamp rates In order to comply with the community legislation of the CEMAC Zone, the Finance Law of 2023 increases the tariffs of stamp duties and specific stamps such as; The stamp on foreign passport visas, The graduated stamp, The automobile stamp (excluding transporters), Airport stamp (excluding domestic flights), Bill of lading stamps, stamps on driving licenses, firearms licenses, hunting licenses, and others.
The finance law of 2023 devotes a set of tax measures aimed at promoting import substitution by; strengthening the existing common law system for the promotion of the agricultural, livestock, and fishing sectors, and develop additional specific facilities for companies processing local raw materials.
There are a few amenities offered by the current system in the agriculture sector When making an investment:
- exemption from tax and employer charges on wages paid to seasonal agricultural workers;
- exemption from VAT on the purchase of pesticides, fertilizers, and inputs as well as equipment and materials for agriculture, livestock, and fishing;
- exemption from registration fees on the transfer of land used for agriculture, livestock, and fishing;
- exemption from registration fees on loan agreements intended to finance agricultural, livestock, and fishing activities;
- exemption from property tax on properties belonging to agricultural, livestock, and fishing enterprises and used for these activities.
In the operating phase: i) For the first five (05) years of operation, there are following exemptions: – Exemption from paying the business license contribution; – Exemption from income tax, including advance payment and minimum collection
ii) The fifth (5th) year and beyond:
-a waiver of the contributions required for company licenses;
– the payment of a flat income tax rate of 0.5% of turnover.
The other legal entities of the said sector benefit from the tax advantages provided by the law of April 18, 2013 setting incentives for private investment.
Exemption from VAT on the sale of local products by farmers, breeders, and fishermen is stipulated under (Article 128 (6) of the GTC).
- Companies that process local raw materials benefit from a 50% deduction in the monthly advance payment and income tax. Companies in the following industries can receive this benefit: – the agricultural, breeding, fishery, and leather products industries.
For the specific case of the brewing industry, the rationalization of the promotion of drinks made from local raw materials by: – Reducing 30% of the taxable base of ad valorem excise duties for these drinks and beverages for a period of three years starting on 1 January 2023; – Giving the Minister of Finance the authority to waive the minimum threshold of 40% required in cases where local raw materials are unavailable.
2023: A Healthier Business Environment
The continuation of the policy aims to reduce the tax burden on taxpayers through the reduction of the corporate tax rate for SMEs from 28% to 25% by;
- The extension of the 50% deduction of the advance income tax rate to companies producing pharmaceutical products and fertilizers in order to promote their local production;
- The increase in the deductibility rate of damages and breakages incurred by companies in the brewery sector from 0.5% to 1% of the total volume of production, in order to take into account, the reality of the losses incurred by these companies;
- The exemption of VAT on the purchase of basic foodstuff from farmers by public entities in charge of the regulation or management of food stocks.
Secondly, the policy aims to Strengthen the legal security of taxpayers. The legal framework of the compliance dialogue procedure in order to avoid transforming this instrument of promotion of fiscal civic-mindedness into real tax audits through; The establishment of a prior agreement procedure to allow companies to protect themselves against subsequent tax reassessments, The establishment of a mechanism to improve the quality of tax audits through the opening of an appeal to the Director General of Taxes when the amount of the planned adjustments is such that might cause a clear prejudice to the taxpayer and the possibility for companies or dependent entities to conclude a prior agreement with the tax administration for the determination of their transfer prices.
Regardless of the delivery method, electronic purchases are subject to customs tax.
Public contracts are now negotiated inclusive of all taxes and subject to customs duties stipulated by the legislation. Specific modalities for the collection of customs duties and taxes on the importation of phones, tablets, and digital gadgets with a 50% decrease on the customs taxable base for a period of two years as of January 1st, 2023.
Other notable objectives of the new fiscal policy are;
– Excise duty on the importation of certain products with a high rate of 50% on tobacco-related products
– The customs Computer fee has been increased from 0,45% to 1%
– Increase of export duty on certain products except for gold and diamonds
– Exceptional extension of duration for customs audit
– Obligation of customs declaration prior to cash advances received for the exportation of goods (this is to fight against illicit money transfers)
– Henceforth, companies are obliged to submit a copy of their transfer pricing documentation to the customs administration not later than March 31st.
The objective of this new finance law is to contribute to increasing the State’s capacity to accomplish its policy goals by increasing its own revenue through improving tax and customs efficiency and optimizing non-tax revenues. It applies to tax and customs administrations and to all public administrations.
Author: Achare Takor, Senior Attorney, Centurion Law Group Cameroon Office