Simple Tax Guide for Americans in Mexico
At Taxes for Expats we have been preparing U.S. tax returns for U.S. Citizens and green card holders working in Mexico for over 8 years. Our clients hail from all parts of the country - Mexico City and Guadalajara, Monterrey and Puebla, Toluca and Tijuana.
As a U.S. Citizen or green card holder you are legally required to file a U.S. tax return each year regardless of whether you already pay taxes in your residence country.
We offer professional tax services. That means we figure out the best and most optimal way to file your U.S. tax return and avail you of all possible exclusions and deductions. But just as importantly - avoid the errors that would allow IRS to disallow your return and levy fines & penalties on top. You can also do them yourself - not that we recommend it. For more information please see IRS.
The expatriate Foreign Earned Income Exclusion can only be claimed if you file your tax return on a timely basis. It is not automatic if you fail to file and can even be lost.
We have many clients living in Mexico and know how to integrate your U.S. taxes into the local income taxes you pay. Any Mexican income tax you already pay can be claimed as against the tax liability on your U.S. return on the same income.
As an expat living abroad you get an automatic extension to file until June 15th following the calendar year end. (You cannot file using the calendar year as is standard in Mexico for U.S. tax purposes). You must, however, pay any tax that may be due by April 15th in order to avoid penalties and interest. You can get an extension to file (if you request it) until October 15th.
There are other forms which must be filed if you have foreign bank or financial accounts; foreign investment company; or own 10% or more of a foreign corporation or foreign partnership. If you do not file these form or file them late, the IRS can impose penalties of $10,000 or more per form. These penalties are due regardless of whether you owe income taxes or not.
We have helped hundreds of expats around the world catch up with their past U.S. taxes because they have failed to file U.S. tax returns for many years. This is, in fact, our specialty and we offer a 10% discount to clients to wish to file multiple tax returns at once and get in full compliance with the IRS.
Work with a recognized expert to help you prepare your American tax return. We can also provide tax planning and advice with other expatriate tax; we look forward to working with you.
Below we include information on the Mexican Tax System for the American Expatriates.
Mexico personal tax rates are progressive to 30%.
From 2010 to 2012 the personal tax rate (Impuesto Sobre la Renta - ISR) will be 30%, 2013 rate will decrease to 29% and from 2014 personal income tax rate will return to 28%. 2010 tax rates are as follows:
|Lower limit $||Upper limit $||Fixed fee $||Percent for applied on the surplus of the lower limit|
Persons residing in Mexico calculate their annual tax on their total income generated both in the country and abroad. In the case of foreign income, taxes paid abroad are generally credited against taxes payable in Mexico.
There are specific rules for each type of personal income such as: wages, fees, capital gains, dividends, etc. In the case of wages, the taxes are withheld by the employer. In the case of salaries paid by a foreign company to a foreigner working in Mexico, personal taxes have to be computed and paid, except when the foreign company has no branch or fixed base in the country and the person spends less than 183 days in the country during the year.
There are only a few personal expenses that a taxpayer can deduct from their income which are as follows:
(a) school transportation for their children (only in certain cases)
(b) medical and dental fees, including hospital expenses for the taxpayer, spouse, direct-line ascendants or descendants
(c) funeral expenses for the persons mentioned under (b) above
(d) donations to authorised entities
(e) contributions for employee retirement
(f) medical insurance payments.
Basis Â– Mexican nationals are taxed on their worldwide income. Nonresidents are taxed on Mexican-source income.
Residence Â– An individual is considered resident if he/she has a permanent home in Mexico. If an individual has a home in 2 countries, the key factor is the location of his/her centre of vital interests. Mexican nationals are, in principle, considered tax resident, subject to the permanent home and/or the centre-of-vital-interests test.
Tax Filing status Â– Tax returns are filed individually, regardless of marital status.
Taxable income Â– Income is taxed, in part, under a schedular system, although some revenue can be mixed to determine taxable income. Profits derived from the carrying on by an individual of a trade or profession generally are taxed in the same way as profits derived by companies. An independent regime for interest earned by individuals will go into effect on 1 January 2011.
Capital gains Â– Capital gains are generally taxed as income, except that gains derived from the sale of publicly traded securities or the transfer of personal property (other than corporate shares, securities and investments) are tax exempt.
Tax Deductions and tax allowances Â– Subject to certain restrictions, deductions are granted for medical expenses and medical insurance, retirement annuities, mortgage interest, etc. Personal tax allowances are available to the taxpayer and his/her spouse, children and dependents.
Mexico Tax Rates Â– Individual income tax rates in Mexico are progressive to 30%.
Other taxes on individuals:
Capital duty Â– No
Stamp duty Â– No
Capital acquisitions tax Â– No
Inheritance/estate tax Â– No
Net wealth/net worth tax Â– No
Real property tax Â– The municipal authorities levy "rates" on the ownership of real property. Tax rates are deductible in calculating the individual's taxable income applicable to leasing of real property.
Social security Â– Employed individuals are required to make social security contributions, with the amount based on the individual's salary.
Administration and compliance:
Mexico tax year Â– Mexico tax year is the calendar year
Tax Filing and tax payment Â– Tax on employment income is withheld by the employer and remitted to the tax authorities; some other types of income, such as income from the provision of services and leasing income, are subject to withholding. Income not subject to withholding is self-assessed; the individual must file a tax return and make prepayments of tax. Final tax is due on 30 April (no extensions are available).
Penalties Â– Penalties apply for noncompliance.
Mexico Corporate Tax RatesThe corporate tax rate in Mexico is 30% of taxable profits. Tax is calculated for each calendar year, comparing income obtained less allowable deductions.
All income obtained by companies is taxed, regardless of the source, except in the case of branches of foreign companies. Branches are taxed based on income attributable to the branches.
Foreign companies, branches and persons established in Mexico which obtain income abroad are allowed to credit any foreign taxes paid against Mexican taxes payable by them up to the total local tax applicable in each case.
CAPITAL GAINS TAX
Taxable profits on the sale of land, securities and other assets are calculated by deducting the tax cost from the selling price. The tax cost is based on the original cost of the asset being sold, adjusted for inflation for the period during which the asset was owned. A more complicated procedure is adopted to determine the tax cost of shares, which takes into account tax profits and losses obtained, dividends paid and received, reimbursements of capital paid, and inflation adjustments.
Loss from the sale of shares and other securities is deductible only if certain requirements are met, and may be offset against profits obtained in the same year or in the following five years.
BRANCH PROFITS TAX
Branches compute income tax in the same manner as companies established in Mexico and apply the 30% corporate tax rate on taxable income.
Branches are entitled to deduct expenses incurred both abroad or in the country provided that certain conditions are met. This also applies to pro-rated expenses. Remittances sent abroad in the form of payments of invoices, interests, royalties, reimbursement of expenses or for any other reason are subject to withholding tax of between 25% and 28% and are deductible for income tax purposes if adequately supported.
From 2006 onwards, corporate entities incorporated under the name 'Sociedades Cooperativas de ProducciÃ³n', in which only individuals participate, will have the option under certain circumstances to pay taxes at the corporate level or at the partner level. If paid at the partner level, tax is not payable until the profits are distributed to the individual shareholders.
FRINGE BENEFITS TAX (FBT)
Specified employee benefits provided to employees over and above those required by law are exempt from income tax up to certain limits and are deductible for companies insofar as they are granted to all employees.
Every state in the Mexican Republic requires specific contributions from its inhabitants, the largest being property tax. Some states tax wages paid to employees at an average of 2%.
In the Federal District (Mexico City), employers (physical persons and companies) must pay 2% on wages paid to their employees every month.
Real estate is subject to a bi-monthly payment based on the official assessed value of the property. The maximum bi-monthly rate paid amounts to approximately 0.065%.
SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS
All employers must register their employees with the Mexican Institute of Social Security which provides them benefits for job-related and other disabilities, as well as pensions and death benefits.
Amounts paid for each employee to the Institute are computed on the basis of all payments made to the employee for wages and benefits, with few exceptions that meet certain requirements. These include savings, food, prizes for attendance and punctuality, as well as a portion of overtime and profit-sharing.
Approximately one third of the payments are withheld by the employer from the employees' wages and the other two thirds are paid by the employer.
Both employee and employer contributions should be made by the latter on a bimonthly basis.
NATIONAL HOUSING FUND FOR WORKERS (INFONAVIT)
The objective of this Institute is to provide housing for all workers, usually favouring workers in low-income brackets.
The employer, on behalf of the employees, must make bi-monthly contributions to the Institute of 5% of the wages and benefits paid with a limit of ten 'minimum monthly wages' (approximately $1,517.00 pesos). As in the case of social security, contributions and benefits received by employees from the Institute are tax-exempt. With this payment, the employers comply with their constitutional obligations to provide housing for employees.
ENTREPRENEURIAL FLAT TAX - IETU (Alternative Minimum Tax)
A new entrepreneurial flat tax (IETU) came into force in 2008 by which taxpayers (individuals with commercial or independent personal services providers, as well as companies) and foreign residents with a permanent establishment are required to pay on a monthly basis this tax at a rate of 17.5% on the income obtained on a worldwide basis.
Income tax will be credited against the new tax IETU. Therefore, if the income tax rate is higher than the IETU, this tax will be paid and the excess of Income tax shall be paid separately.
The surplus of the deductions against the income for the purpose of the IETU originates a tax credit that up to 2009 was creditable against the ISR of the same year. This possibility will be eliminated during FY 2010 in accordance with the Ley de Ingresos de la FederaciÃ³n (Federal Revenue Law).
This new tax is revenue oriented and therefore should be understood as a flat tax with limited deductions based on the added value of different sectors of the economy.
The IRS has issued a letter stating that it will accept the IETU tax paid in Mexico by US residents as creditable under the US-Mexico tax convention until it has made a further evaluation of the mechanics of the tax. This also applied to other countries that have accepted this tax within the scope of the treaty. These are currently: Germany, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Korea, Finland, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, Norway, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Slovak Republic, Romania, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
TAX ON CASH DEPOSITS (IDE)
As a measure to reduce the size of the informal economy and redistribute the tax burden among a wider base of the population, the Mexican Congress approved a new tax on cash deposits (IDE, Impuesto a los DepÃ³sitos en Efectivo) to be effective from 1 July 2008.
For the FY 2010, the Ministry of Finance approved an increase in the rate by one percentage point of the IDE, to settle at 3% (previously 2%) and to charge the tax from the deposits from more than 15,000 pesos, rather than 25,000 pesos.
This tax can be creditable against corporate income tax, as reduced from the remittance income tax withheld from third parties and/or any other federal taxes. Electronic transfers, transfers between different accounts, cheques and credit instruments contracted with the financial system are not subject to the IDE.
FOREIGN TRADE TAXES
Customs duties are maintained both for import as well as for export. Duties on export are minimal or none and import duties average 20%, depending on each specific item. In accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), duties on imports from the United States and Canada will be gradually eliminated over a 15-year period and will disappear completely at the end of that time. Beginning in 1994, Mexico eliminated taxes on the importation of specific products from the United States and Canada.
Taxes on production and services are levied on relatively few items such as the importation and sales of cigars, alcoholic beverages and supplying agency services for brokerage, distribution, etc of said goods. There is also a special tax on telephone services. A tax on new automobiles and vehicle ownership is applied directly to purchasers and owners of automobiles.
TAX ON PURCHASE OF REAL PROPERTY
A tax of 1% to 5% of the assessed value of the property is paid by the buyer on all purchases of property. The federal government works with the states of the Republic so that in co-operating states only the local tax applies with no levy of federal tax.
DETERMINATION OF TAXABLE INCOME
Taxable income of companies is computed taking into account all income received less deductions allowed by law. The law mentions certain specific items which are not considered income. These include: capital gains, recognition of the equity method of accounting, revaluation of assets and capital, as well as dividends received from companies residing in Mexico.
ALLOWABLE TAX DEDUCTIONS
In general terms, all expenses needed to generate income and recorded pursuant to generally accepted accounting principles may be deducted, except in specific cases where there are certain limits and special rules for deduction.
Allowable deductions include sales discounts, bad debts, interest paid and losses due to exchange and inflation.
Non-deductible expenses include taxes, costs of representation, commercial credits, provisions to estimated reserves, expenses shared on a pro-rata basis (excluding foreign branches), etc.
Investments in certain assets can be deducted in the tax year at a discount, beginning in 2006.
DEPRECIATION AND AMORTISATION
Deduction for investment in tangible or intangible assets is allowed by the law through the depreciation or amortisation of such assets. Freight and handling, insurance, commissions and fees are allowed in addition to the purchase value of the asset. Depreciation and amortisation are calculated for full months commencing with the month when the asset was purchased and using the straight-line method with no allowance for estimated disposal values.
As a general rule, all types of assets except land may be depreciated or amortised for tax purposes. The basic depreciation and amortisation tax rates allowed are as follows:
Outlays made prior to commencing operations: 10%
Industrial buildings and warehouses: 5%
Machinery and equipment: 10% except on assets used for specific activities
Furniture and fixtures: 10%
Cars, vans and trucks: 25%
Leasehold improvements: Lease terms
Environmentally-friendly machinery and equipment: 100%
STOCK / INVENTORY
Purchases of raw materials, goods in process or finished goods intended for sale are deductible under the cost of sales system when sold by the company. Taxpayers can elect to use the FIFO, LIFO, identified cost and average cost methods.
The law recognises the effects of inflation on taxpayer's debts and financial assets so that, in the case of assets, the view is taken that there is a loss of purchasing power of said assets with the passing of time and, in the case of liabilities, a gain is recognised. For such purpose, the inflationary component for both assets and indebtedness is determined. The assets component is compared with interest earned and an actual accumulated interest or inflationary tax loss is determined. Likewise, the indebtedness component is compared with interest payable and an accumulated gain or the actual deductible interest is determined.
A thin capitalisation regime was incorporated into the law in 2005 in relation to loan finance obtained by Mexican-resident companies from overseas. Taking both related party and non-related party debt into account, interest payments are not deductible where the debt/equity ratio exceeds 3:1. Companies that do not meet this ratio will have a term of five years to reduce it in equal proportions per year. These rules do not apply to financial institutions. The interest paid that exceeds this ratio will be non-deductible. From 1 January 2007 onwards, only loans with foreign parties on which the company is required to pay interest are taken into account in determining the debt/equity ratio.
Tax losses may be used to offset taxable income obtained during the following ten years. The amount of tax losses is uplifted for inflation for the period from July of the year when they occur to June of the year when they are offset.
EMPLOYEE PROFIT SHARING
All employees of a company are entitled to a share of its profits. The profit sharing is computed each year at the rate of 10% of taxable income if any. There are certain specific items described in the law which have to be added or deducted from the taxable income for profit sharing computation purposes. Most of these relate to differences in the treatment of inflation accounting.
From 1 January 2005, profit sharing paid in one year will be deductible from the after tax profit or loss of the following year.
An effective tax rate of 19% applies to taxpayers involved in certain specific activities such as:
- imports and exports
Corporate groups may choose to file consolidated tax results both for purposes of income tax as well as for purposes of the tax on assets. Consolidation involves combining the taxable income of all companies in the group, taking into account share percentages held by the holding company, and eliminating certain intercompany transactions. The major benefit derived from this procedure is the possibility of using tax losses from one company to offset profits in another company in the group. In 2006, the offset percentage was raised from 60% to 100%.
RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
The Secretary of the Treasury is empowered to alter the tax loss or profit in the case of transactions between related parties made at prices other than market prices, including sales or purchases, loans, rendering of services, lease or sale of real property, as well as use or transfer of intangible assets, when they are not realised at a fair market value.
Taxpayers are obliged to carry out an annual transfer pricing study. Taxpayers must apply the best method rule. As a default, this is taken to be the Comparable Uncontrolled Price Method (CUP), unless the taxpayer can prove that such a method is not applicable.
CONTROLLED FOREIGN CORPORATIONS/ TAX HAVENS
The CFC regime when enacted was based on a geographical conception such that it only applied to transactions realised in specific countries or regions (Black List). Currently, this regime applies to income wherever derived where the tax charged was less than 75% of the tax that would have been paid in Mexico.
Income is not subject to the CFC regime where the Mexican company does not control the overseas company or less than 20% of its annual income is passive income. For this purpose, control is that which allows the parent to decide the timing of distributions of dividends or profits.
There is no withholding tax on dividends paid by Mexican companies.
The withholding tax payable on interest to non-residents depends on the type of interest in a range from 4.9% to 21% for payments to banks and other financial institutions and 28% in other cases.
Royalties payable to non-residents are taxed at the following rates:
For the right to use railroad wagons: 5%
For the use of patents and trademarks: 28%
Other categories of royalties: 25%
Royalties paid to residents of countries with a preferential tax regime: 40%
There are no exchange restrictions in Mexico. Foreign currencies can be freely bought, sold and sent or transferred abroad.
Mexico Vat (Impuesto al valor agregado)The general VAT rate in Mexico is 16%, with an 11% rate applicable at the borders and other designated areas, and a 0% rate for food, medicine and certain other items.
Companies and persons who engage in the business of selling, rendering services, leasing, importing or exporting goods are subject to VAT. In most cases, this tax does not represent an expense for the companies or persons since it is collected from the consumer of the goods or services and paid monthly to the tax authorities.
The VAT paid on purchases of goods and services received can be offset against the VAT collected and payable. In the case that the VAT paid exceeds the VAT collected in a given period, companies and persons are entitled to be refunded for the difference by the tax authorities or, under certain conditions, to offset the VAT receivable against other taxes payable.
VAT Registration Â– All persons must be registered to be able to credit the VAT paid to vendors or suppliers or at the border. Nonresidents that make taxable supplies of goods or services in Mexico also must register.
Filing and VAT payment Â– VAT filing is monthly, within the first 17 days of the following month.