Brazil 2019 federal tax take rises to five-year high, seen rising this year

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s federal tax revenue last year rose to a five-year high of 1.537 trillion reais ($370 billion), the country’s federal tax service said on Thursday, boosted by an increase in the corporate tax take.

The 2019 total was 1.7% higher in real terms than the 1.457 trillion reais collected in 2018, as tax on government asset sales and rising company profits increased revenue despite economic growth failing to pick up much, if at all.

Looking ahead to this year, Claudemir Malaquias, head of tax and customs at the revenue service, said economists’ expectations of a 7.2% increase in the nominal tax take look realistic.

“Tax revenue should grow by around 3.5% (in real terms), above this year’s expected GDP growth, but not much above,” he told journalists in a press conference. “So yes, that seems feasible.”

The government’s official GDP growth forecast for this year is 2.4%, and its outlook for inflation is 3.62%. It will publish its official revenue forecasts in March.

A real increase of around 3.5%, after accounting for inflation, would mean tax revenue this year will come in around 1.59 trillion reais.

December’s tax take totaled 147.5 billion reais, less than the 155.0 billion expected in a Reuters poll of economists and down a marginal 0.1% in real terms from the same month the year before, the revenue service said.

Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Alison Williams and Alistair Bell