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The Brazilian Tax Code

The Brazilian Tax Code (Código Tributário Nacional) was enacted in 1965 and came into force in 1966. During that time, Brazil was governed by a military council that came to power back in 1964.

It was conceived as a tool to articulate all the different laws versing about taxes by that time and it still remains in force in Brazil even though there has been a historical pressure for enacting a new one or at least improving the current.

Brazil has been known for extreme complexity when it comes to the tax system. Even local lawyers face difficulties when advising clients on that.

Brazil’s Complex Corporate Taxes


Generally speaking, the guiding principles regarding labor law in Brazil are:

  • Equality: tax collection must be proportional to social and economic discrepancies among different groups
  • Legality: taxes cannot be charged without a law allowing the government to do so
  • Liberty: taxation cannot exempt people from enjoying their constitutional rights
  • Anteriority: a law establishing a new tax will only come in force subsequent to a certain lag time
  • Nothing is Certain


Theoretically, each federal entity should collect taxes and receive a more or less proportional amount conditional upon the circumstances, such as wealth inequality, region, and so on. However, in practice, what happens is that the Union collects more than two-thirds of all taxes charged on Brazil. In other words, almost 70% of all taxes in Brazil go to the Federal Government.

This has always been a serious issue because most states and municipalities are dissatisfied with the current scenario. However, due to political influence and lack of articulation of certain political parties, most analysts find it very difficult to believe that the tax system is likely to be improved in the short run.

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