As many as 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses in Tamaulipas are set to stop paying federal, state and municipal taxes as well as the cost of services such as electricity to protest the lack of government support amid the coronavirus-induced economic crisis.
The Tamaulipas Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fecanaco) took the decision on Friday to suspend tax payments to all three levels of government after a virtual meeting of business chamber leaders from cities including Reynosa, Ciudad Victoria, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Tampico.
Fecanaco chief Julio Almanza Armas said that businesses will withhold federal sales and income taxes, the state-based payroll tax and municipal levies such as property taxes. He also said that they will cease payments to the Federal Electricity Commission, the Mexican Social Security Institute and the government housing fund Infonavit.
“In the face of the [health] emergency, the federal government has adopted a repressive and defiant attitude toward business owners, obliging us to continue paying taxes, services and salaries,” Almanza said.
The government has ordered workers to go home without offering any support to employers or giving them even a temporary reprieve on the payment of taxes and services, he added.
President López Obrador has announced a loan scheme for small businesses and some other measures to support the economy during the coronavirus crisis but many of Mexico’s prominent business groups were critical of his plan, stating that it is “disappointing,” “incomplete” and could have grave consequences.
Almanza said that federal Labor Ministry data showing that more than 12,000 jobs were lost in Tamaulipas between March 13 and April 6 was cause for concern but added that many businesses had no other option than to lay off workers.
“Around 54% of formal employment in the state is created by retail, services and tourism business owners. Although they have imagination, creativity, good will, the desire to support their workers and all the good intentions toward their personnel, without income and with their businesses closed it is impossible for them to keep paying salaries, taxes and services,” he said.
“For that reason the elimination of jobs … is not a whim but a survival need in the face of the apathy from the [municipal, state and federal] governments.”
The governors of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo León are also unhappy with the federal government.
After a meeting in Monterrey on Friday, the three leaders called for a bigger share of federal funding, pointing out that their states contribute to 26% of tax revenue.
Governor Jaime Rodríguez Calderón of Nuevo León said that the states weren’t seeking to abandon the national tax pact but that they want it to be amended.
“We’ve said that to the president since he arrived in government and we will continue to insist because it’s unfair for states that produce a lot more,” he said.
Now is not the time to consider leaving the pact because it would only divert attention from the coronavirus crisis, Rodríguez added.
For his part, Governor Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca of Tamaulipas said that the three northern border states have the “moral authority” to ask President López Obrador for extra assistance, which he said would help save jobs currently at risk of disappearing due to the pandemic and the measures put in place to contain the spread of the disease.
In addition to calling for additional funding, Rodríguez, García and Governor Miguel Ángel Riquelme of Coahuila announced a pact with the private sector to work together to reactivate the economy in Mexico’s northeast after the coronavirus crisis passes.
Separately, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez also complained about the funding his state receives from the federal government, and refused to rule out abandoning the tax pact.
“A lot of states are already tired of the abuses of the federal government. We feel proud to be Mexicans and to be part of a republic but enough abuse already,” he said.