The Covid-19 pandemic boosted the digital economy. In Brazil, between April and June, months when social distancing reached peaks, 5.7 million customers made their first purchase over the internet (data released by Neotrust/Compre&Confie, a market intelligence company, measuring consumer movement).
This phenomenon highlights an agenda that was being discussed both at national and international levels: the adaptation of the consumption tax system to the digital economy. The taxation of this sector is a central topic of discussion at the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) since 2013. At the same time, European countries have created taxes on digital services, in an attempt to offset the difficulty in collecting the CIT (Corporate Income Tax) from companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook.
Brazilian tax reform proposal
The tax reform proposed by the Federal Government, in one of its points, follows this trend. As a replacement for PIS and COFINS, the project creates the Contribution on Goods and Services (CBS), at the rate of 12%, and attributes to digital platforms the responsibility for payment of the CBS levied upon transactions carried out in the platform whenever the selling entity does not issue an electronic invoice. In practice, the Federal Government's tax reform proposal directly affects marketplace operators, which would become responsible for the payment of CBS owed by entities (sellers) that fail to issue invoices.
Tax authorities holding marketplace operators liable for taxes is not something new. Especially at the state level, it has become a tendency to attribute to digital platforms