Alarm About Ecuador’s Traceability Approach

    Photo: ITSA

    The International Tax Stamp Association (ITSA) has raised concerns over Ecuador’s decision to allow tobacco and alcoholic beverage manufacturers to hire a provider of their choice to implement the marking and fiscal traceability system required on excise products.

    According to the ITSA, this development sets an alarming precedent and could open the “flood gate” to taxpayers across the globe using traceability systems that are in their own self-interest, leading to a significant drop in the capacity of authorities to collect tax revenue.

    Last year, Ecuador’s Internal Revenue Service (SRI) published resolutions allowing taxpayers to use any provider for traceability systems in a move that the ITSA says is a fresh blow to the country’s SIMAR traceability system. This has been in place since 2017 to regulate and gather excise on beer, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products and has been instrumental in securing more than $100 million in additional tax revenues, according to the trade group.

    The ITSA has already flagged its concerns with the general director of the SRI, reiterating the position that marking and fiscal traceability solutions independent of controlling industry interests are far more effective in securing supply chains and excise. According to the ITSA, these technologies generate independent and precise information to facilitate more effective tax administration through better control of tax declarations and enforcement of taxpayer obligations.

    Ecuador’s move heralds a potential conflict of interest between the provider and taxpayer because authorities cannot independently verify production and import levels without controlling the track-and-trace provider. It also sees noncompliance with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Ecuador has signed up to.

    “We are deeply concerned that Ecuador’s decision could set an unhealthy precedent for the whole industry, both within the region and globally, which could have a serious impact on the wider tax stamp and traceability industry,” said ITSA President Juan Carlos Yanez in a press note.

    “We urge Ecuador’s government, in conjunction with experts, to review its decision about resolutions 19 and 48 and look at fiscal marking and traceability continuity through a new transparent international public bidding process. In this way, the SRI will be able to significantly increase revenue collection via modern and reliable tax payment methods.”