Computerization tends to end tax evasion


Source: DCI, 14/01/2008

The computerization of the country's tax system is closing in on tax evaders, which could substantially reduce this type of misdemeanor in the coming years. This is because, according to the president of the Union of Accounting and Advisory Services Companies in the State of São Paulo (Sescon-SP) and of the Association of Accounting Services Companies (Aescon-SP), José Maria Chapina Alcazar, with adventures such as the electronic invoice and the integration of the entire national tax system, the Union will not only be able to have greater clarity in relations with taxpayers, but will also see the small tax evaders who today escape the tax system.

In an interview with the Panorama do Brasil program, which will be shown on TVB this Monday, Alcazar also takes the opportunity to talk about the intellectual gain that accounting professionals have had in recent years.

According to him, small and medium-sized companies paid attention to the strategic importance of this professional, who became part of the most important decisions of the company he serves. Below are excerpts from the interview made by Roberto Müller, from TVB, in collaboration with Getulio Bittencourt, Editor-in-Chief of the DCI newspaper, and Milton Paes, from Rádio Nova Brasil FM.

Roberto Müller: How are you dealing with the growing importance that your colleagues, accountants, have had in public and private companies? After all, today they are consultants, involved with the laws of corporate governance, with the convergence of accounting standards, and this is all requiring you to do a huge job of preparing staff and professional and academic updating. How is this adaptation?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Accounting has been going through a positive evolution. If we look back, in the past 40 years the government has intensely interfered in the issue of corporate management, with excessive bureaucracy, tax burden, many tasks to be performed, and the accountant ended up being denied an operational corner equal to that of a tariff and with little intellectual value. So, I see that the moment we are in is the moment to recover the intellectual value of the accounting profession. This is because currently we have seen a very strong technological advance, whereby these manual jobs that happened in the past will cease to exist due to the public digital bookkeeping system, the electronic invoices that are coming up ahead, there is a total system integration between government and taxpayer.

Getulio Bittencourt: Is this allowing the accountant to get involved in issues that cover civil society as a whole?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Yes. The accountant is now the real strategist of entrepreneurship. In addition, the professional has to evolve, to recycle his knowledge. Thinking about it, Sescon set up a quality system for accounting companies, exactly foreseeing this change. And we have been giving lectures across the state of São Paulo, raising awareness of the profession, for those who have not yet realized that this change has already happened, because entrepreneurs will have a great need for strategic planning, logistical support, and this is what the accounting professional participates in. This also allows us to have a social activity, which is to make accounting socially responsible.

Roberto Muller: By the way, I have heard from more than one company president, especially those who are being forced to adopt globalized accounting standards, that they will not take a step if they do not have an updated accountant to guide them towards being able to participate in the competitive world that is there.

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Right. Currently, we have to divide the segment into two slices: the large corporations, which are on stock exchanges, and the micro and small company (MPE), which is not just the one that is within Simples. In fact, they have a much wider reach because they represent almost 95% of the taxpayer base. In the case of large corporations, they have always valued accounting, they have always depended on this professional as a management tool, to support the rear. So for these companies there is no change because they are familiar with a culture that comes from outside, where accounting is very important in business. In Brazil, we have a very high level of informality and, as a result, accounting has become an instrument of control for the tax authorities, and not for the entrepreneur. Right now, with the technological advancement of the government, which tends to end informality - and that we are preaching throughout the State of São Paulo -, companies now have only two paths: either they believe it by faith, or by pain. That is, the entrepreneur who does not change his operational customs will disappear from the market. The accounting professional who serves this type of entrepreneur, adapting to the needs and requirements of that entrepreneur will also disappear. Because the responsibility of the accounting professional today is unlimited, that is, if he connives with the fraud process, he responds with his personal assets, and criminally.

Getulio Bittencourt: Recently an American billionaire in the real estate sector bought one of the largest media companies in the USA, paying US $ 4 billion. With the purchase, his accountants set up a system by distributing employees across several companies in such a way that he saved significantly on the taxes he had to pay. With that, in a few years he would be able to pay the company's debts. Is it possible for the Brazilian accountant to do this in Brazil?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Yes, it is possible. It is the famous tax planning with characteristics of legality. There is an alternative to using the profitability of a particular enterprise to build a strategy to undertake other businesses, which ends up bringing the tax savings. This is already provided for in Brazilian legislation. So, that's where the accounting professional's intellect comes in. Why today, in Brazil, does it have little representation of intellectual value in this universe of the corporate world of MSEs? Because there is still a vision of the entrepreneur, who has two situations to control: the formal and the informal. And the accountant deals only with the formal. But this is ending, because we now have digital certification, for example, by which all data will be processed electronically. With that, the space is running out and we will have a deal of finance there in an organized and business way.

Milton Paes: This issue of digital certification is causing some companies, mainly state-owned companies, to develop this model; does this, in a way, increase the credibility of companies?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Digital certification is taking place to advance processes that aim to reduce bureaucracy. Today we already have companies with real profits, which are required to have digital certification. We already have some commercial transactions that use digital certification. So, everything gives speed and agility to end the role in transactions. All means will be electronic. And the entrepreneur will relate to the market electronically. We cannot deny this advance. Let's talk a little about the electronic invoice; I make a very simple comparison. If we take Souza Cruz, for example, which is part of the project of the 50 largest companies, she sells cigarettes to a small bar on the periphery that the tax authorities did not know about and that did not contribute any taxes; buying from Souza Cruz, it is being declared. In other words, the government is getting to know that little bar on the periphery. So that accountant will also have to advise that small merchant so that he does not run the risk of a tax evasion crime and that the company is not involved either. So we are going through a culture that I hope will, in a short time, level the level of equality, as this informality process tends to end. Then, society will have another consciousness. Today, like other countries, the government spends because it spends, it is not accountable, we watch government negotiations. But when everyone is on a level playing field, the taxpayer will feel in his pocket how important it is for the government to also apply the same control instruments to its accounts. Because we have the government with the greatest openness, it is spending money at will, its expenses it creates at will, and it controls the citizen to pay.

Roberto Müller: I wanted to know how many professionals deal with Sescon and Aescon, including experts. How is the process of qualifying these people?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: In the State of São Paulo, Sescon represents accounting, expertise, information and advisory companies, in all there are 62 economic segments. We speak of an audience of 60 contributors. In the accounting area, in the city of São Paulo, we are 18 thousand accounting companies. In the State of São Paulo, we are talking about 130 thousand companies. In Brazil, we are talking about 400 thousand professionals, that is, it is a considerable base.

Roberto Müller: Seeing all these changes that are underway, is there an effort to qualify professionals and companies?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: This is part of our mission at the organization. Sescon created the Corporate University, which focuses on creating specialized courses that lead the accounting society to improve and technical specifications. In addition, we also have processes with young people, Sescon Solidário, which is a program that works with young people from 14 to 17 years old and teaches tax writing and personnel department practices, which we cover for the entire project.

Getulio Bittencourt: I would like to talk again about the tax burden problem. In the USA, the tax system is smaller than ours, in the sense that it is more efficient, less corrupt, it collects more and is more flexible. However, they do not have electronic invoices and charge by estimate, that is, they do not have an invoice. Isn't it more efficient to do that?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Certainly. In the existing model, Sescon is being favorable to the process of technological advancement because it enters a path of inhibiting corruption and tax evasion, because it also takes away the autonomy of the government intermediary to use the tax evasion process to take advantage of itself. So this technological advance is an adjustment to the existing system. Now, this is still not the ideal system. It is still complex, bureaucratic, and requires a lot of investment from companies. The ideal model would be a much simpler situation, as in the USA, where despite being simpler it has a very high tax, but charged to individuals. And when you go to buy a vehicle, for example, you know how much the car costs and how much is the tax. So, in the current model, technological advances come to benefit. But our tax model is very outdated and I have the feeling that the government does not want to simplify, because if it does, it will harm many who are there. So, society has to work for that. We have to claim and take a very lean, very simple proposal for the government to collect much more.

Milton Paes: Do you believe that the first step for that was the movement towards the end of the CPMF? Because for many years the CPMF was extended and, in previous situations, one or another segment even complained, but without the strength it had in this recent movement.

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Well, we had other successful mobilizations and, now, what was in full emphasis was the CPMF, because the government fought not to lose this R $ 40 billion. And we told him that he doesn't need that money. If we make a rescue of the past, all the scandals, with Valerioduto, Ambulances, everything that has come out of public money is much greater than this collection of the CPMF. So, the government needs to understand that society is wanting to help the government, that it is not against the government. Society wants to tell him that it is time to change the rule of spending, to better manage public money. Because the more money you give to the government, the more it will spend in the wrong way. So this is the message. The motto of the issue is not the CPMF. It is just the opportunity for now. What we are trying to say to the government is: spend less, employ less, with a political nature, as we have many jobs for the election campaign, and make the machine efficient and effectively professional. So, with that, it reduces the machine and reduces the budget in terms of costing.

Milton Paes: So the Lula Government's lack of professionalism?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: Yes, but this comes from several governments. We cannot say that it is in this government, as is the CPMF. And now, as there is an exaggeration of this government in public expenditures, society is not taking this type of administration anymore. But previous governments have also done it the same way, and the sad thing is that each government is spending more than the previous one.

Milton Paes: They say that 40% of the GDP is equivalent to the taxes collected, that is, the country works 40% to pay taxes. But in fact, it is more than that. Explain that account?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: I dare say it is more than that: when it comes to 40% of the tax cost of GDP, I put 10% more there. Because the government has placed so many obligations on the entrepreneur that for him to attend to the administrative activities of the government he has to assemble a real army. So, when we talk about 40% tax burden, we also have to think about the bureaucratic cost of this tax burden, and we can imagine another 10% cost, which interferes with the formation of the sale price of products for society by one all.

Roberto Müller: They say that if there was a tax break, there would be an increase in revenue due to the increase in sales, which, in turn, would result from the reduction in cost, in the final price. Do you have any examples of this?

José Maria Chapina Alcazar: The example is the computer sector. Didn't the government reduce taxes on computers? See how the market exploded in terms of sales - and that turning the economy and creating jobs, that is, leaving the economy active. Thus, any reduction, any exemption, comes to turn the economy and bring an increase in employment and formality.