Beer without tax leak


By Luciana Otoni, Jornal do Brasil - 17/01/2005

The national production of 8,5 billion liters of beer per year begins to be directly monitored by the federal government as of this month. Fifth largest beer producer in the world, Brazil has 25 companies with 60 factories that had revenues of R $ 17 billion in 2004. With a tax evasion that reached R $ 560 million in federal taxes between 2000 and 2004 alone, the beer sector was the first segment of the industry selected by the IRS to be the target of control in the best style "Big Brother".

From the installation of flow meters in each of the 181 fillers existing in the country, the federal tax authorities will monitor, in real time, the volume produced in each of the factories and will know if the monitored production corresponds to the value issued in the invoices . Each year, brewers issue 62 million invoices. Upon concluding the process in the beer sector, the tax authorities warn: a similar control will be adopted for soft drink manufacturers and will also reach cigarette producers.

The IRS has the complete map of the segment. Between January and November, the collection of federal taxes from beverage companies reached R $ 3,234 billion, of which R $ 2,294 billion came from beer manufacturers. The inspection gives the measure of the losses. Among fines and taxes, infractions reached R $ 516 million between 2000 and 2004. A survey by Sindicerv showed that in 2002, R $ 720 million were withheld between federal and state taxes such as the ICMS.

- About 60% of tax evasion in the country is due to some form of under-invoicing or the non-issuance of invoices. The advantage of this control is that now the competition will take place on a fairer basis, those who today have a market because they evade will have to adjust - says Marcos Mesquita, president of Sindicerv.

The federal government's main source of revenue from the beverage sector is the Industrialized Products Tax (IPI). In bottles with volumes from 360 to 660 milliliters (ml), R $ 0,1576 is charged for IPI, whereas for 350 ml cans the value is R $ 0,0963. But in the “Big Brother” of beer, it will not be just IPI that will enter the game. The IRS has signed an agreement with 13 states for state government inspectors to assist in monitoring. As a result, governors will also have a powerful instrument to control tax evasion.

The next targets will be the soft drink manufacturers. According to the general inspection coordinator of the Federal Revenue, Marcelo Fisch, the work on adapting the flow meters has started and the objective is to install the control system in this segment later this year.

- The fact that a segment is responsible for 71% of the collection of the beverage sector alone justifies this control. About 90% of companies have completed the process, small companies are missing - commented Fisch.

The planning director at Schincariol, José Francischinelli, considers the control “positive”.

- Everyone will know the numbers of each of the companies and it will be easier to see that our market share is above what the research institutes show - he said.

Spending reaches R $ 13 billion

Next Friday, the deadline for the 60 beer factories to have their flow meters installed and the homologation requests (inspection and equipment seal) submitted to the IRS expires.

Ambev has allocated R $ 4 million to install the flow meters and has all of its 86 production lines in a position to provide information in real time to the federal tax authorities. Ambev is a manufacturer of the brands Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, Bohemia, Kronenbier and Caracu.

Kaiser and Schincariol also completed the installation of the equipment on the production lines. Kaiser said that the meters were installed on the 24 fillers in its factories and that the homologation requests were submitted to the government. At Schincariol, expenses amounted to US $ 1,2 million for the installation of 31 meters in seven factories. As informed by the group's director of planning, José Francischinelli, the IRS still has to make the conference about the correct functioning of the equipment and seal it.

A few days before the deadline for the installation and presentation of the meter check request, the National Union of the Beer Industry (Sindicerv) made a preliminary assessment and informed that, of the 181 beer fillers of the 25 companies in operation, 23 remained to be equipped. These fillers still without meters account for only 2% of the volume of 8,5 billion liters of the beverage processed in the country.

Also according to the union, the total allocated by the manufacturers for the installation of the meters reached R $ 13 million.

From the installation in all the factories, the executive superintendent of Sindicerv, Marcos Mesquita, evaluated that the process will be effectively concluded in March, when the six teams of technicians from the Revenue and Inmetro will conclude the investigation of all meters.