The Canadian-owned Peñasquito mine in Zacatecas. The Canadian-owned Peñasquito mine in Zacatecas.

AMLO asks Canada to persuade mining companies to pay their taxes

President says companies are challenging the debts in international courts

President López Obrador has asked the Canadian government to help persuade Canadian mining companies to pay their tax debts in Mexico.

López Obrador said Tuesday that “a few Canadian mining companies” are not up to date with their tax obligations and want to dispute the fact in international courts.

He “respectfully” called on Canada’s ambassador to Mexico, Graeme Clark, to convince them to settle their debts with the Federal Tax Administration (SAT).

“What are we going to court for? It’s very clear that they have these debts with the SAT. Hopefully they’ll help us to convince them [to pay],” López Obrador told reporters.

He didn’t name the companies to which he was referring but First Majestic Silver Corp said last month that it served notice to the Mexican government under North American Free Trade Agreement provisions to begin negotiations to resolve disputes with the SAT.

Almost 70% of foreign-owned mining companies that operate in Mexico are Canadian, according to Global Affairs Canada, that country’s foreign affairs department. Canadian mining assets here were worth CAD $18.4 billion (US $13.7 billion at today’s exchange rate) in 2017, according to the Mining Association of Canada.

In calling for Canadian miners to settle their tax obligations, López Obrador pointed out that several large companies, including Walmart and Coca-Cola bottler Femsa, are paying back what they owe. He also said that Japanese automaker Toyota has agreed to settle its tax bill in Mexico.

“We thank the companies that decided to catch up and not go to court,” López Obrador said.

The president has made recouping unpaid tax a central objective of his administration as Mexico’s economy takes a battering from the coronavirus crisis.

The newspaper Milenio reported that SAT chief Raquel Buenrostro is ready to file criminal complaints against some large companies that have allegedly committed tax fraud.

She said that previous federal governments allowed large and powerful firms to get away with not paying their taxes but stressed that business owners now know that if they commit tax fraud, they will face legal action.

Buenrostro declined to name the companies that the government is planning to take legal action against but said that they operate in a range of sectors including steelmaking, food production, automotive, pharmaceuticals, energy and mining.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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