Panama: Refunds of excess tax on imported merchandise | KPMG | GLOBAL
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Panama: Refunds of excess tax on imported merchandise

Panama: Refunds of excess tax on imported merchandise

Panama has adopted the Central American Uniform Customs Code (Código Aduanero Uniforme Centroamericano—CAUCA) and the related regulations (RECAUCA), and a central right under CAUCA is that any importing company may request a refund of excess taxes paid. Typically, a taxpayer (on finalizing the importation of certain merchandise) may have paid more taxes (impuestos) than owed or remits tax that is not owed, and in such instances, the taxpayer may request the return or refund of tax.


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A 2016 decree establishes that when a lack of merchandise is detected or when there is an error in the weight, quantity, measure or declared value that in turn causes a higher tax payment, the taxpayer may file a refund request with the customs authority.  The RECAUCA indicates that the right of the taxpayer to request a refund of excess taxes, interest, and surcharges is available for a term of four years measured from the date of payment of the customs tax obligation. To request a refund, certain conditions must be satisfied:

  • Imported goods were found to be defective or were not in accordance with the specifications agreed upon at the time of importation and are returned.
  • There is an error in the weight, quantity, measurement or in the declared value that causes a payment of a greater amount.
  • During the customs clearing process or after the goods cleared customs, it was determined that the taxable base on which the customs duty was based is incorrect.
  • Goods were destroyed for failing to comply with a requirement for entry.
  • The goods were destroyed or damaged, as a result of an accident or major incident, while in customs control.
  • The benefit of the commercial treaty in force was not correctly applied.

Panama’s customs authority will apply rules on the execution and procedure of the application for refund, and generally will follow the Central American standard—including the longer period and greater traceability in the management of the procedure by the customs service.


Read a March 2017 report (Spanish) prepared by the KPMG member firm in Panama

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