U Turn Over Lifting of Bank Secrecy

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.

Monday, August 6, 2018

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"

Regarding the resolution by the CC, the lawyer Édgar Taylor Santos, one of those who filed the action of unconstitutionality, explained to Prensalibre.com that " ... they were notified by the resolution of the CC and it means that the collector entity may no longer request from a competent judge a taxpayer's secret banking information. Now the SAT must request this information from the Public Prosecutor's Office (Ministerio Publico or MP)."

Taylor adds that " ... the SAT will no longer be able to investigate taxpayers, and will have to show evidence to the MP regarding the banking information required of a legal contributor (company) or individual taxpayers."

See full resolution. (In Spanish)

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More on this topic

Removal of Bank Secrecy Applies

November 2019

Since November 26, the Guatemalan authorities have the power to access taxpayers' bank information for tax purposes, so they can now corroborate that the bank income of companies coincide with the payment of their taxes.

After the resolution of the Constitutional Court was published in the Diario de Centroamérica on November 25, in which the appeal of unconstitutionality filed by Escalas Mercantiles S.A., which was intended to prevent the authorities from having access to the banking information of companies and individuals, the law that empowers the Superintendence of Tax Administration (SAT) to investigate taxpayers has come into effect.

Bank Secrecy: Can the Court's Decision Be Reversed?

August 2019

Experts and authorities believe that the ruling by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court revoking the suspension preventing access to taxpayers' bank information for fiscal purposes could be reversed with another legal action.

In recent days, the issue has become more relevant in the country, because after a year of being suspended access to banking information for tax purposes, on August 6 the Constitutional Court finally ruled, authorizing the Superintendence of Tax Administration (SAT) to review the accounts of taxpayers.

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

May 2019

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.

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