PRF: Operation Ceres fights tax fraud in the beer sector

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A structured tax fraud scheme in the beer trade is the target of Operation Ceres this Monday morning (7).

The action, led by the Federal Highway Police (PRF) in conjunction with the Special Action Group for the Repression of Organized Crime of São Paulo (Gaeco-SP) and the Federal Revenue Service fulfills six search and seizure warrants in the regions of Itú (SP) , São José dos Campos (SP), Fernandópolis (SP), Frutal (MG) and São Luís (MA).

“According to administrative investigations conducted by the São Paulo State Finance Department – Sefaz/SP and the Federal Revenue Service, industries based in the regions of Piracicaba and Sorocaba were fraudulently inserted into the mercantile chain, with the purpose of promoting evasion tax of state and federal taxes related to interstate beer operations”, explained the PRF, in a note.

In the case of beer, the responsibility for the payment (withholding tax) of ICMS occurs by substitution, that is, the manufacturer, refiner and distributor collect, in advance, the tax due throughout the trade chain.

Thus, the beverage manufacturer, located outside the state of São Paulo, when promoting the departure of the goods to an establishment located in São Paulo, is responsible for paying the tax levied on subsequent operations. One of the exceptions to the rule occurs when the transfer of goods takes place between industrial establishments. Based on this exception, the companies involved, whose corporate purpose is industry, attract tax liability for the payment of ICMS-ST.

Under the scheme, the intermediary companies issued invoices for the merchandise to their branches at an even lower price, again reducing the product’s calculation base. Finally, the goods were sold to distributors linked to the manufacturer in Rio de Janeiro, with minimal tax payment. ICMS evasion between 2016 and 2020 exceeded the figure of BRL 300 million.

The Operation’s name is a reference to Ceres, goddess of agriculture and grain, in Greco-Roman mythology. From her name derived the word beer, which comes from the Greek Ceres Visia, meaning “in the eyes of Ceres”.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News

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