Guatemala: Bank Secrecy Now Lifted

A law has entered into force which facilitates access to individuals and companies' bank information with a court order at the request of tax authorities.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Francisco Solorzano, chief of the Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT), noted that "... 'this tool will only be used when there is reasonable doubt about the results of the processes or execution of plans and mass selective control'."

Julio Héctor Estrada, finance minister, told Diario de Centroamerica that "... the expectation is that this instrument will push up collections, particularly those of voluntary compliance, because taxpayers are under the understanding that their transactions will be easier to verify, they will register their operations better. It will help reach the goal this year of Q57 thousand 463 million, but as audits will be more strategic, revenue will rise significantly'."

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Court Decision Eliminates Bank Secrecy

August 2019

One year after the suspension of taxpayers' access to bank information for tax purposes, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled definitively and revoked the suspension.

The issue had been on hold since August 2018, when the country's highest court temporarily suspended the article of the law that in Guatemala granted companies access to banking information with a court order at the request of the tax authorities.

Banking Secrecy: Controversy Comes Back

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During its last visit to Guatemala, the IMF warned that if banking secrecy is not lifted in the country, compliance with "international transparency treaties" could be undermined.

After the last visit of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Guatemala, the international organization warned that reversing the decrease in tax collection involves strengthening the control of large taxpayers, improving the use of tax information to reduce non-compliance, reallocating resources to risk-based audits, and reconsidering the lifting of bank secrecy for tax auditing purposes.

U Turn Over Lifting of Bank Secrecy

August 2018

The article of the law in Guatemala, which facilitated access to companies bank information via a court order requested by the tax authorities, has been temporarily suspended.

The decision was taken by the Constitutional Court after a company filed an appeal of unconstitutionality. Based on the arguments put forward, the CC decided to order the provisional suspension of Article 52, which empowered the Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT) to request that a judge order the lifting of banking secrecy of individuals or companies when there was "... reasonable doubt about the results of the processes or execution of the selective and mass inspection plans'.See "Guatemala: Bank Secrecy Now Lifted"

Guatemala: Access to Companies Banking Information

August 2016

In January 2017 a rule will come into effect which allows the lifting of bank secrecy by court order at the request of the Tax Administration.

Decree 37-2016 Law to strengthen fiscal transparency and governance for the SAT was published today in Diario de Centroamerica, along with the dates for when each of the amendments adopted in the reform becomes effective.