Indirect tax snapshot
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Value Added Tax (VAT) and Special Solidarity Contribution (CSS) are the main type of indirect taxation in Gabon.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
Value Added Tax (VAT) is a cumulative tax levied on:
• sale of and provision of services rendered or used in Gabon, or through foreign or local e-commerce platforms;
• ommissions received by operators of foreign or local e-commerce platforms.
It is a tax on consumption which is applied during the production and distribution process to most goods and services. It is also applied to goods, and certain services, entering the country. Although VAT is ultimately borne by the consumer by being included in the price paid, the responsibility for charging, collecting and paying it to the tax authority at each stage of the process rests with the business making the supply ie the sale.
A business registered for the tax will charge VAT (output tax) on its sales, and incur VAT (input tax) on its purchases (including any VAT paid at importation). The difference between the output tax and the deductible input tax in each accounting period will be the amount of VAT payable by the business to the tax authority. When the input tax exceeds the output tax, a refund can be claimed under certain conditions.
There are four rates of VAT that are applied to goods and services in Gabon: the standard rate (18%), the reduced rates (10% and 5%), and the zero rate. In addition, some goods and services are exempted from VAT.
Taxable persons who do not exclusively carry out transactions giving entitlement to VAT recovery are allowed to deduct the VAT which has encumbered the goods and services they acquire by application of a deduction pro rata.
Most goods imported into Gabon are subject to VAT. The tax will have to be paid by the importer at the time of importation. Where the importation is for business purposes and the importer is registered for VAT, it may be possible to reclaim the tax (subject to certain rules).
Note that specific regimes for oil and gas companies, mining companies, socio-economic building companies, diplomatic missions, consular posts and representations of international organizations settled in Gabon exist.
Special Solidarity Contribution (CSS)
Special Solidarity Contribution (CSS) is a tax levied on the supply of goods or services rendered or used in Gabon based on similar principles as VAT.
CSS is calculated based on the amount invoiced, out of taxes. The applicable rate is 1%.
Note that some goods and services are exempted from CSS for oil and gas companies and mining companies.
Taxable persons to Value Added Tax (VAT) are individuals or legal entities carrying out, usually or occasionally, in an independent manner, taxable operations in the scope of an economic activity and for an onerous consideration.
These persons, whatever their legal status and their position with regard to other taxes (subject to Corporate Income Tax (CIT) or Personal Income Tax (PIT)), the form or the nature of their operations, being registered or not, are liable to VAT since their turnover out of taxes reach XAF 60 million per financial year or XAF 500 million per financial year for lumbering activities.
A specific application for VAT registration needs to be introduced in order to obtain a VAT tax registration number.
New taxpayers likely to achieve a turnover equivalent to this threshold for the first year of their operations are notably allowed to apply for VAT registration.
Taxable persons to Special Solidarity Contribution (CSS) are individuals or legal entities carrying out, usually or occasionally, taxable operations in the scope of an economic activity and for an onerous consideration, with a yearly turnover out of taxes which is equal, at least, to XAF 30 million.
No specific CSS application (apart regular tax registration of the company) is needed for CSS.
Physical and legal entities with no permanent establishment in Gabon, but which engage in taxable transactions there, are subject to VAT in the same manner as residents, through their clients or a fiscal representative.
Businesses established outside Gabon, with no permanent establishment in Gabon, must, in principle, appoint a Gabonese tax representative which is jointly and severally liable for the VAT and CSS obligations, including their payment. Generally, the Gabonese client is chosen as the fiscal representative.
VAT and CSS returns normally cover the operations of the previous month, ending on the last day of a calendar month.
All VAT and CSS returns have to be submitted within 20 days of the end of the relevant period, together with any tax due. Even if no business has been carried out during the month, ‘NIL’ VAT returns needs to be filled.
A default surcharge penalty may be imposed by the tax authority if returns are not submitted on time or the related tax is not paid by the due date.
Taxpayers that file their returns late are subject to a 5% penalty before receiving a notice, and to a 10% penalty within seven days following a notice from the tax authorities. Those who fail to file their tax returns within seven days following the notice are subject to automatic (estimated) taxation and a 100% penalty (150% for second and future offenses).
Lack of filing of a VAT return giving rise to estimated taxation results in the loss of the right to deduct VAT and of the VAT credit related to the previous period.
If the declaration does not show any VAT due, the penalty for lack or late filling is XAF 100,000 brought to XAF 200,000 by month of delay as from a notice has been issued by the tax authorities, capped at XAF 2,000,000.
Late payments are subject to a 10% penalty for the first month and a 3% penalty thereafter.
VAT and CSS declared and paid by Gabonese companies on behalf of foreign service suppliers need to be filled in the same timeframe as normal VAT and CSS returns.
Yes. A range of penalties can be imposed where businesses do not comply with the VAT rules.
Penalties and interest can be applied for errors and omissions on tax returns, or where inaccuracies affect the tax base.
Penalties can also be applied in case of bad faith (100%) and case of fraudulent practices (150%).
Previously missed deductions may be made good and taken into account until the twelfth month following the month in which the entitlement arose.
No. A company must be registered for VAT before it is entitled to any input tax credits.
A VAT invoice must show:
• seller's name and corporate details (corporate name, form of the company, amount of the share capital), address, Trade Office Register registration number and VAT identification number
• customer's name, address and, where applicable, tax or VAT identification number
• designation of the good or service invoiced
• applicable VAT rate
• price excluding VAT and corresponding tax expressed in XAF.
For partially taxable entities, transactions subject to Value Added Tax must be distinguished from those not subject to it. For each transaction giving rise to an invoice, the non-taxable amount, the taxable amount of the operation,
the applicable VAT rate and the amount of the VAT must be indicated.
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