Contributed by Lefosse Advogados
Despite attempts to simplify certain areas of the Brazilian tax system, 2013 has not seen significant changes in the perception and reality of the complexity of the Brazilian tax system. These have historically been driven by a combination of factors, the main being (i) the different (and sometimes conflicting) layers of taxing jurisdiction (i.e., Federal, State and Municipal), (ii) the intensive legislative activity, (iii) the significant time that some times take for a view on the interpretation of tax legislation to be officially expressed by the tax authorities, and (iv) the often aggressive positions of the tax administration, with “dialogue channels” not well established with the business community.
The first half of 2013 has seen a number of tax packages introduced to benefit specific sectors, including the expansion of the change in the social security tax basis for certain labour intensive sectors (moving from the company’s payroll to its gross revenues to incentivise hiring of employees) that started in 2012 as well as incentives for infrastructure investments in light of the World Cup and Olympics events.
With the World Cup and Presidential elections taking much of the attention in 2014, and combined with a reduction of tax collection partially because of the aforementioned measures but also to a greater extent because of the slowing down of economic activity, it is unlikely that the tax reliefs will continue to be introduced (at least at the same pace they were before).
On the other hand, it would not be unexpected if the Government continues to use the tax system as a way to encourage (or discourage) behaviour by economic agents, such as to foster investments in certain areas or to stimulate or discourage the inflow of foreign capital into Brazil. An example of this was the reduction to zero of the Tax on Financial Transactions (IOF)(1) rate applicable on investments made by foreign residents into the Brazilian financial and capital markets. The reduction of the rate, previously settled at 6% (with a few exceptions), was prompted by the depreciation of the Brazilian Real against foreign currencies that took place in 2013 (an opposite movement to that verified in 2012).
On a different front the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is becoming better equipped for auditing activity each year, being able to cross-check information electronically provided by taxpayers in a wide range of different tax returns(2). Centralised coordination of audits and the creation of specialised audit teams for specific issues enabled the IRS to issue several tax assessments in 2013 with values exceeding BRL1 billion.
In addition to targeting tax evasion and general non-tax compliance, the IRS has been focusing its efforts on challenging tax planning structures that, according to its internal policies, are considered abusive - despite in several cases being arguably allowed by tax law. For example, two areas of focus by the IRS include deduction of goodwill amortisation for tax purposes and taxation of foreign subsidiaries profits where there is a vehicle for consolidation or a tax treaty involved. We have also seen a trend of the tax authorities to assess tax benefits deriving from stock option plans and capital gains that, according to their view, are generated on certain corporate restructuring transactions with share for share consideration.
While this concentrated effort by the IRS emphasises, on one hand, the need for time and consideration to be spent in properly structuring deals and documenting one’s position, it indicates, on the other hand, that tax litigation will continue to be a constant theme for multinationals operating in Brazil or for large Brazilian corporates on their domestic and international affairs.
There are arguably a number of positions being taken by the IRS that are disputable or even unreasonable and most of the issues being challenged will ultimately have to be decided at the administrative and judicial courts, in cases that can take several years. At the end of the day having to litigate on tax matters has become an integral part of doing business in Brazil.
(1) Referred to in Brazil as Imposto sobre Operações de Crédito, Câmbio e Seguro, ou relativas a Títulos ou Valores Mobiliários (IOF), the IOF is a federal tax levied, inter alia, upon foreign exchange transactions in general (i.e., transactions required for foreign investors to remit funds to the country) and upon foreign credit transactions (e.g., foreign loans).
(2) According to a study published by the World Bank named “Paying Taxes 2012”, Brazil was ranked in the last position among the countries with the less complicated compliance rules. According to this study, Brazilian taxpayers would, in general, spend 2,600 hours per year only to comply with the Brazilian tax obligations.
Tax - Brazil
THE FIRM This traditional family boutique has a well-established presence in the Brazilian market, and regularly advises a prominent domestic clientele on some of its most demanding tax cases. The team has developed a sterling reputation for its proficiency in handling all manner of administrative and judicial litigation in the tax arena, and is often engaged by other firms to provide specialist legal opinions.
Sources say: "This is an excellent firm that has a renowned name for contentious tax matters."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Leo Krakowiak is widely perceived to provide a benchmark in the country for the quality and authority of his tax advice.
Ricardo Krakowiak has impressed clients with his technical knowledge and strong track record in tax cases.
THE FIRM This compact and well-established boutique has been counselling clients on tax issues for over four decades. The firm is best known for its celebrated practice in administrative and judicial tax litigation, but is also well placed to provide risk analysis, tax planning advice and legal opinions on M&A.
Sources say: "This is a highly specialised firm that is extremely well recognised in the contentious field."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Name partner Hamilton Dias de Souza heads up the team and is "the trade mark of the firm," according to sources, who note the high calibre of his legal opinions and his excellent market standing.
Mário Luiz Oliveira da Costa works alongside Dias de Souza and earns much praise from market sources for his skill in handling tax litigation.
THE FIRM This multi-platform firm houses a highly respected 25-lawyer tax practice which regularly advises on issues spanning corporate restructuring, M&A, capital markets and litigation. It functions as a one-stop shop for clients, often bringing together a multidisciplinary team of experts from across the firm to assist with some of their most complex operations. In a recent notable mandate, the team represented Amil Participações in connection with the tax implications of its highly publicised sale to the UnitedHealth Group.
Sources say: "The team is available, works to deadlines and is technically very precise. It is also very good at liaising with public bodies."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Gustavo Lian Haddad heads the practice and is held in high esteem by clients: "He devises creative and innovative solutions and never loses sight of the bigger picture - he is outstanding!"
Ricardo Bolan focuses his practice on tax consultancy and planning, with an emphasis on international operations. Sources note his excellent client care.
Marcos Carvalho specialises in tax litigation and evokes praise from clients for being "knowledgeable, responsive and always available."
THE FIRM This firm has one of the largest and most prestigious tax departments in the country. The 74-lawyer team advises clients on a broad range of tax issues including administrative and judicial litigation, customs regulations, transfer pricing and corporate, financial and capital market transactions. The group also draws on the firm's considerable expertise in public law to provide fiscal guidance for some of Brazil's largest infrastructure projects. In a recent highlight, it served as counsel to Nissan in connection with the tax aspects of its incorporation of a local branch and the construction of a new manufacturing plant in Resende, in Rio de Janeiro state.
Sources say: "Their work is always very in-depth and sophisticated, and they cover all legal bases."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Celso Costa earns much praise from clients, who note his strong auditing background. "He's very firm in his approach and knows what he's talking about," say sources.
Daniella Zagari Gonçalves is highly prized by clients: "She is extremely dedicated to her clients and is very prudent in staying up to date with the market's best practices."
Raquel Novais heads the department and is also a managing partner for the firm. "She stands out for her creativity, strong tax knowledge and commercial sense," enthuse clients.
Clients praise Fernando Tonanni: "He is strategic, client-focused and has the ability to handle highly complex cases."
Marco Antonio Behrndt impresses sources, who consistently single him out for his prowess in tax litigation.
THE FIRM This prestigious boutique has three decades of experience in tax matters and is a much-in-demand player in the market. The team advises clients on a wide spectrum of tax queries including social security contributions, corporate contracts, cross-border investments and indirect taxation issues. The firm is widely acclaimed for its litigation expertise and its skilful handling of complex judicial cases.
Sources say: "We needed them for an urgent and complex matter and we were very pleased with the results. The team provides fast, precise and objective advice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Founding partner Ricardo Mariz de Oliveira is widely regarded as one of Brazil's foremost authorities for tax issues.
Managing partner João Francisco Bianco earns much praise from market commentators for his academic work and strong track record in tax matters.
Roberto de Siqueira Campos is hailed by sources for his tax litigation expertise.
THE FIRM The tax department of this flourishing full-service firm has a sizeable team of 62 lawyers based across its offices in São Paulo, Rio and Brasília. It advises clients on some of their most intricate cases involving corporate tax, litigation, VAT and foreign trade. It is particularly well known for its skilled handling of cases from the financial services industry and for its role as regular counsel to large industrial and commercial corporations such as ThyssenKrupp, Pão de Açúcar and Dow Chemical. In a recent highlight, the team advised Raia and its controlling shareholders on the company's merger with Drogasil, a deal that created the largest chemist retail chain in the country.
Sources say: "The firm really knows the market like nobody else and constantly supports us in confidential and strategic matters requiring a high level of quality and precision."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Roberto Quiroga Mosquera is a highly respected tax specialist who earns strong praise from market commentators for his consultancy, litigation and academic credentials.
Andréa Bazzo Lauletta is a much-admired member of the team: "She has excellent technical know-how and provides prompt and expeditious advice."
Luiz Felipe Centeno Ferraz is equally prized by clients: "His English is great and he works quickly in order to get the case moved to the next level."
Glaucia Maria Lauletta Frascino and João Marcos Colussi earn strong praise from sources for their experience in tax litigation.
Maria Isabel Tostes da Costa Bueno has over two decades of experience in tax disputes and is particularly active in cross-border cases.
Pedro Luciano Marrey Jr is one of the firm's founding partners and is an authoritative figure for tax matters.
Sources are full of praise for Brasília-based Marcos Joaquim Gonçalves Alves, noting his vast technical knowledge and accessibility. He regularly represent clients in domestic tax disputes before judicial and administrative courts.
THE FIRM The tax department of this prestigious full-service firm has a team of 81 lawyers who enjoy a stellar reputation for their work with major domestic and international players. The group regularly conducts tax due diligence for corporate transactions, negotiates fiscal incentives with government agencies and renders assistance with transfer pricing, tax planning and social security matters. The firm also provides the support of a proficient tax disputes team which advises on conflict prevention and represents clients in judicial and administrative litigation.
Sources say: "The team stands out for its deep knowledge of tax law and its perseverance and creativity in seeking solutions to our most complex tax problems."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ricardo Becker specialises in handling tax structuring for corporate and banking and finance clients. He is much prized by sources for his pragmatic and solution-oriented approach.
Luciana Rosanova Galhardo wins the admiration of clients for her tax litigation skills and accomplished performance at oral hearings.
Luiz Roberto Peroba Barbosa focuses his practice on tax and social security. He is well regarded in the market for his quick responses and sharp litigation skills.
Rio-based Carlos Henrique Bechara specialises in international trade and customs alongside his distinguished tax practice. He regularly assists clients with both tax consultancy and litigation matters.
Giancarlo Chamma Matarazzo evokes much praise from the market for his consistent delivery and technical skills. He recently led a team advising Telefónica on the tax consequences of the share swap between its local fixed-line unit Telesp and mobile carrier Vivo.
José Roberto Pisani is a senior partner at the firm whose vast experience in tax litigation matters lends considerable gravitas to the team.
Tércio Chiavassa focuses his practice on tax litigation and domestic tax advice. He is currently leading a team advising billboard advertising company Clear Channel Outdoor on an infraction notice dispute with the São Paulo state tax authorities.
Since publication, José Roberto Pisani has retired from this practice.
THE FIRM This firm enjoys a reputation as a leading authority on tax matters owing to a solid track record spanning over 50 years in the market. The 45-lawyer team is frequently instructed to advise on domestic and international tax planning issues, acquisitions, corporate reorganisations and special tax regimes. The firm also houses a highly respected litigation team which provides regular assistance to clients in administrative and judicial disputes. Clients come from a wide variety of sectors including energy, oil and gas, telecoms, sports and finance.
Sources say: "We appreciate the firm's speed, accessibility and vast knowledge of the subject matter."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Gustavo Brigagão focuses his practice on administrative proceedings, corporate restructuring and tax planning for indirect taxation. He is singled out by clients for his in-depth knowledge and excellent service.
Antonio Carlos Garcia de Souza specialises in handling judicial and administrative litigation proceedings.
Luiz Felipe Carvalho is singled out by peers for his expert handling of direct tax issues.
Eunyce Porchat Secco Faveret focuses on court and administrative proceedings, and is "efficient and well trained," according to clients.
Rodrigo Brunelli Machado centres his practice on administrative proceedings and corporate sales and acquisitions.
Rubem Tadeu Cordeiro Perlingeiro is the firm's specialist for social security and environmental matters and is recommended by market sources for his diligent approach.
João Dodsworth Cordeiro Guerra and Carlos Alberto Ulhôa Canto are founding partners of the firm. Both are widely regarded as tax specialists of the highest calibre and lend much-valued expertise to other members of the team.
THE FIRM This firm is the product of a split from the former Xavier Bragança Advogados in June 2013. The resulting practice is dedicated to tax matters, and benefits from the expertise of the former firm's best-known lawyers in this field. To date, the group has assisted clients with a full catalogue of consultancy and litigation needs in the area, and is particularly renowned for its work in international taxation.
Sources say: "They are extremely focused on tax and demonstrate an impressive grasp of the technical details."
KEY INDIVIDUALS International tax specialist Alberto Xavier has over 40 years of experience under his belt, and is a standout figure for complex tax issues: "He is an amazing lawyer - whenever I have a really difficult problem, I go straight to him."
Roberto Duque Estrada handles both litigation and consultancy work. Clients highlight his problem-solving skills.
Renata Emery earns widespread acclaim from market sources, who note her sharp technical skills and intelligent approach to finding solutions.
THE FIRM The tax division of this general practice firm is widely regarded as its strongest department. A team of 48 lawyers advises clients on a broad range of tax matters, but is particularly celebrated for its experience in handling transfer pricing, litigation and fiscal real estate issues. Representative clients in this area include Schneider Electric, Claro/Embratel and Danone.
Sources say: "The partners handle our affairs from beginning to end, have profound technical knowledge and keep constantly up to date with the latest jurisprudence."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Luís Eduardo Schoueri specialises in corporate and contractual matters alongside his established tax practice. He is much lauded by market commentators for his substantial expertise in transfer pricing and the quality of his legal opinions.
THE FIRM This firm was established as a tax boutique and remains one of the most respected and admired players in the market following more than two decades of activity. A team of 47 lawyers and accountants advises clients on a full range of tax issues encompassing the structuring and restructuring of business operations, joint ventures, litigation, transfer pricing and cross-border taxation agreements. Clients include Natura Cosméticos, Andrade Gutierrez and Johnson & Johnson, and a recent highlight saw the team advise CGTI Brasil Grãos on tax structuring following its indirect acquisition of a 74.5% stake in Terlogs Terminal Marítimo.
Sources say: "They are very dedicated and responsive, have strong technical knowledge and deliver the results we need."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Julio de Oliveira focuses his practice on litigation and VAT issues.
Luís Rogério Farinelli specialises in foreign investment, M&A and corporate reorganisation and is highly prized by clients: "He is an excellent tax lawyer and really sets the pace for the rest of the team."
THE FIRM This tax boutique is a long-standing presence in the market, and is widely acclaimed for its litigation expertise and the depth to its legal opinions. The team is divided by industry sectors and is frequently engaged to assist with direct and indirect tax issues, tax planning and risk analysis of new products and ventures. Clients come from a variety of industry sectors, most notably telecoms, mining, retail and finance.
Sources say: "The team provides an excellent consultancy service backed by vast academic know-how."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Belo Horizonte-based Misabel Abreu Machado Derzi and Sacha Calmon Navarro Coelho are highly experienced and respected tax specialists. Peers are unanimous in their praise for the pair's expert legal opinions and litigation skills.
Eduardo Maneira specialises in tax and corporate law. "He understands the problems in our sector without losing sight of his academic background," enthuse clients.
Consulting partner André Mendes Moreira focuses his practice on litigation and international tax law issues and is widely endorsed by market sources: "He provides a high-quality and responsive service."
São Paulo-based Igor Mauler Santiago is another consulting partner at the firm whose litigation skills evoke much praise from peers.
Valter de Souza Lobato is highly prized for his expertise in fiscal matters involving natural resources and infrastructure projects.
THE FIRM The tax department of this well-known firm houses one of the country's largest teams of tax specialists. The group provides clients with comprehensive assistance for litigation, social security, transfer pricing and international tax planning. It is particularly active in handling transactional matters, and earns considerable recognition for its in-depth advice on the tax aspects of M&A. The firm's clientele includes a number of market leaders from the food, biotechnology, construction and financial industry sectors.
Sources say: "The team stands out for its extensive experience and proactive approach to finding solutions to complex tax questions."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Simone Dias Musa heads the tax consulting team. She is held in high esteem by clients, who praise her experience and strong connections in the field.
Paulo Sehn heads the tax litigation team and is also active in administrative fiscal planning issues.
Clarissa Giannetti Machado is another of the firm's litigation and fiscal planning specialists. Clients champion her availability and business judgement.
THE FIRM This renowned full-service firm routinely advises a prominent clientele on a wide variety of tax matters from its offices in Rio, São Paulo and Brasília. The group regularly assists clients with consultancy, litigation, direct and indirect taxes and social security, but is particularly noted for its proficiency in trade and customs, with emphasis on special tax regimes and cross-border agreement reviews. Representative clients in this area include BT, Rolls-Royce and Universal Music. Lately, the team has been busy representing Odebrecht Energia on the tax aspects of a number of infrastructure projects currently under construction in Santo Antônio, Teles Pires and Belo Monte.
Sources say: "The team is attentive and always provides useful updates and information, which is particularly helpful to non-Brazilian clients."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ian Muniz heads the department and is a much-respected figure in the market. He specialises in tax, customs and M&A.
Senior partner Abel Amaro earns much praise from clients: "He is available, committed and consistently provides us with high-quality responses."
Market commentators laud Márcio Calvet Neves for the strength of his consultative advice.
Clients praise André de Souza Carvalho for his business awareness and collaborative working manner.
Rio-based João Agripino Maia specialises in tax planning, litigation and M&A. He has particular experience in advising corporate and international clients.
Senior associate Emmanuel Biar de Souza focuses his practice on tax litigation, consultancy and social security.
André Luiz de Castro Martins is also a senior associate at the firm. His practice focuses on tax and customs and litigation, and he is singled out by clients for his technical capacity.
Since publication, Silvania Tognetti has joined the team as Veirano Advogados absorbed Bragança Advogados. "She has provided us with fantastic advice on Brazilian tax issues," hail clients.
THE FIRM This firm's tax department is particularly well known for its transactional expertise, and regularly advises corporate clients on tax planning, transfer pricing, goodwill tax assessments and special tax regimes. The group also handles consultancy and litigation matters, and recently boosted its capabilities in these areas with the addition of three new partners. The client portfolio features a number of high-profile players such as White Martins, BHP Billiton and Globo. In a recent work highlight, the group successfully represented BP Brasil in a USD31 million tax assessment dispute with the authorities over the company's foreign profits.
Sources say: "They never present standardised strategies, but look for alternative and creative solutions to our problems."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Paulo Marcelo Bento co-heads the department. He is particularly prized by clients for his technical expertise and availability.
Corporate and restructuring tax specialist José Otavio Haddad Faloppa is deeply admired by clients: "He is an in-depth and critical risk assessor, which is very important in tax planning."
THE FIRM This tax group is widely regarded as one of firm's strongest departments, and is frequently instructed to handle a broad range of issues including tax planning, relief measures and social security. The team is particularly active in handling high-profile administrative and judicial disputes for a variety of clients from the energy, mining, real estate and paper cellulose industries. A recent case in point saw the team successfully represented Ambev in a tax credit dispute with the authorities relating to the free loan of goods as a sales-boosting mechanism.
Sources say: "These are dedicated lawyers with a high level of expertise, and the firm's full-service capabilities mean it has all the necessary tools in any area."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Head of department Luiz Gustavo Bichara is consistently singled out by sources as an excellent tax litigator.
Senior associate Enzo Megozzi is held in high esteem by clients, who praise his knowledge of tax matters and expert handling of cases before the Supreme Court.
THE FIRM This general practice firm is particularly recognised for its skilled handling of disputes at administrative and judicial level. It also provides assistance with corporate tax planning, indirect tax and social security issues, often liaising with the firm's acclaimed M&A team to provide full support for corporate clients. It is noted for its dexterity in managing the tax needs of clients in the real estate sector, where the firm has a market-leading presence. Lately, the group has been busy advising Six Semicondutores on the corporate, contractual and tax aspects of its USD500 million investment in the country's first semiconductor factory.
Sources say: "This is an excellent tax team and I would have no hesitation in recommending them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Guido Vinci heads the department. He specialises in tax planning, consultancy and litigation stemming from M&A transactions.
THE FIRM The tax department of this prominent full-service firm handles queries across a wide range of industry sectors, most notably paper cellulose, biotechnology and insurance. The team provides both consultancy and litigation counsel, and is frequently sought out for its expert advice on income tax issues and tax structuring following acquisitions and corporate reorganisations. In a recent work highlight, it assisted American real estate leader Simon Property Group with the tax structuring and cross-border payments stemming from its joint venture with BR Mall Participações.
Sources say: "We would highlight their responsiveness, market standing and detailed analysis of complex cases."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Oswaldo Leite de Moraes Filho heads the department and focuses his practice on tax and international trade. He is widely acclaimed by market sources for his litigation prowess.
Eloisa de Almeida Rego Barros Curi advises corporate clients on restructurings and cross-border tax issues. She is singled out by peers for her excellent consultancy practice.
Catarina Rosa Rodrigues is much admired by clients: "She is well versed in tax matters, focused and dedicated."
Sources are full of praise for Claudia Liguori Affonso Maluf: "She always meets deadlines and handles complex cases in a clear and objective manner."
THE FIRM The tax practice at this multi-platform firm focuses on providing consultancy and litigation services to a prominent clientele of foreign investors and entrepreneurs. The team also provides day-to-day assistance with foreign trade taxes and special customs regimes, regularly working with clients in the telecoms, advertising and media industry sectors. In a recent highlight, it served as counsel to General Mills in relation to the tax aspects of its acquisition of Yoki Alimentos.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Henrique Lopes heads the department and is acknowledged by peers for the strength of his litigation skills.
Victor Polizelli stands out for his academic credentials, according to market sources.
THE FIRM This tax practice is especially renowned for its expert handling of corporate finance matters, in line with the general orientation of the firm. The team attracts considerable praise for its multidisciplinary skills, and is often instructed by clients seeking advice on transfer pricing, fiscal incentives, tax structuring and tax assessment disputes. Recently, the group served as counsel to Universo Online in connection with taxation issues relating to the company's overseas remittances for the purchase of electronic products and services.
Sources say: "We value their specialised knowledge, their good reputation and their activity in various areas of law."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Vinicius Branco focuses on advising clients on corporate, personal income tax, financial products and disputes.
Isabela Schenberg Frascino co-heads the firm’s corporate tax group, focusing on tax planning and private equity deals. Clients highlight her efficiency, commitment to deadlines and versatility in handling complex cases.
Ana Carolina Monguilod shares responsibility for the corporate tax group alongside Frascino, and specialises in advising high-profile domestic and international players on their local tax planning strategy.
THE FIRM This 71-lawyer tax group is one of the largest in the country, and is spread across the firm's offices in São Paulo, Rio and Belo Horizonte. The litigation and consultancy teams work together closely in order to provide clients with comprehensive assistance for tax assessment, planning and structuring and preventative counsel for disputes. The group is particularly active on the transactional side, where it handles a number of M&A and infrastructure mandates. The firm's clientele in this area features a number of industry heavyweights such as Coca-Cola, TIM and Heineken.
Sources say: "The team stands out for its tax knowledge, business vision and international focus."
KEY INDIVIDUALS João Dácio Rolim heads the department. Clients rave about his in-depth knowledge and pragmatic approach.
Cristiano Augusto Ganz Viotti co-heads the tax consultancy team and stands out for his excellent support, according to clients.
Luciana Goulart Ferreira Saliba co-heads the tax litigation team and earns praise for the quality of her customer care.
THE FIRM Siqueira Castro is one of the largest firms in Brazil and has a dedicated tax specialist at each of its local offices, working both independently and alongside partners in Rio and São Paulo. The group regularly advises on tax burden reduction, tax planning and social security issues, and is particularly acclaimed for its expert handling of litigation matters. Clients include Amil, Duratex and Nextel Telecomunicações, and a recent work highlight saw the firm represent copper producer Paranapanema in a series of tax assessment disputes with the fiscal authorities.
Sources say: "They understand the peculiarities of our business and industry sector, and are always available and ready to respond to our requests."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Edward Dotoli leads the Rio team. Clients describe him as a business partner and praise his technical and problem-solving skills.
Maucir Fregonesi Jr specialises in international taxation, tax planning and litigation matters. He is currently leading a team representing Electro Vidro in a tax assessment dispute with the authorities relating to the transfer of products between the company's branches.
Since publication, Jorge Henrique Amaral Zaninetti has joined Araújo e Policastro Advogados
THE FIRM This full-service firm is a market leader for corporate and capital markets matters, and its tax practice naturally focuses on catering for the transactional needs of its clientele. The team is frequently instructed to advise on the fiscal implications of cross-border investments, project finance and joint ventures, and provides regular assistance with direct and indirect tax matters, tax planning and transfer pricing. Clients in this area include Grupo Pão de Açúcar, Brookfield Asset Management and Portugal Telecom. In a recent work highlight, the team advised Redecard on all tax aspects stemming from the delisting tender offer launched by Itaú-Unibanco.
Sources say: "They are proactive, precise in their analysis and deliver excellent-quality work."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Founding partner Roberto Barrieu heads the department. He is a much-respected name in the market and is highly acclaimed by clients for his "up-to-date and sound advice."
Senior associate Ramon Machado Castilho focuses his practice on corporate income tax. He stands out for his "availability, knowledge and secure opinions," according to clients.
THE FIRM The tax department of this full-service player often draws on the firm's multidisciplinary and sector-specific expertise in order to advise clients from a wide range of industries on their fiscal needs. The team has a particular emphasis on corporate restructuring, capital market transactions and disputes. Representative clients in this area include CEF, Hyundai and Mexican beverage leader FEMSA.
Sources say: "The team provides precise information and great follow-up and knows how to anticipate problems."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ana Cláudia Utumi heads the department. She is highly prized by sources for her leadership skills and practical focus.
THE FIRM The tax department of this multidisciplinary firm earns strong praise for its expert advice on consultancy and litigation matters. The team operates both as a standalone practice and in co-operation with other departments at the firm to provide assistance with a wide range of issues including tax planning, fiscal incentives, risk analysis and compliance. It is particularly noted for its oil and gas expertise, and was recently commissioned by BNDES to prepare a detailed study of the Brazilian tax framework for the oil and gas upstream sector.
Sources say: "We value their experience and profound knowledge of the field and their availability whenever we need them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Luiz André Nunes de Oliveira heads the department and has over four decades of experience under his belt, including time spent as tax adviser and legal manager for Vale. He focuses his practice on M&A tax planning, merchandise logistics and litigation.
Breno Ladeira Kingma specialises in tax litigation issues. Clients describe him as quick and easy to work with.
Rafael de Moraes Amorim was recently promoted to partner and focuses his practice on international taxation, providing consultancy and litigation counsel. He is highly prized by clients: "His experience of international transactions and companies inspires great confidence in his work."
THE FIRM This long-standing firm provides wide-ranging tax support spanning transfer pricing rules, value-added taxes claims and tax planning strategy. The group was recently reinforced by the arrival of a new partner specialising in tax litigation in order to assist with the growing demand for the firm's services in this area. The clientele includes the likes of TIM, White Martins and Hewlett-Packard, and a recent work highlight saw the firm advise Medidata Informática on the validity of value-added tax charges levied by Rio de Janeiro state on imported goods arriving via a neighbouring state's port.
Sources say: "The team displays excellent technical knowledge and business vision."
KEY INDIVIDUALS André Gomes de Oliveira heads the department and elicits considerable praise from clients for his "multidisciplinary approach and ability to remain calm under extreme pressure."
THE FIRM The tax practice at this medium-sized firm provides regular advice on tax planning strategy for corporate transactions, interstate VAT, tax credits and international taxation issues. The team also handles administrative and judicial litigation matters. The firm's client portfolio in this area includes a number of leading multinational corporations, notably from the IT and telecoms sectors.
Sources say: "We value the firm's speed, knowledge of our company and technical grasp of all matters in question."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Antonio Amendola has experience in both tax litigation and consultancy, with a particular emphasis on international M&A transactions.
Since publication, Cristiano Frederico Ruschmann and José Luis Brazuna have joined Brazuna, Ruschmann, Piovesan e Soriano Advogados. The market is still waiting to assess the full impact of these departures.
THE FIRM The tax department of this well-established firm attracts consistent praise for the quality and precision of its legal opinions. The group represents clients from a wide variety of industry sectors such as paper cellulose, oil and gas and telecoms, and advises on matters that include transfer pricing, custom duties and international tax planning. The team also handles administrative and judicial disputes, and has significant experience of tax enforcement actions.
Sources say: "This is a highly reactive team that has a clear vision of what to do in order to meet our needs."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Key contact for clients is Thomas Benes Felsberg.
THE FIRM Tax was the original focus of this multi-platform firm, and remains a central focus of its practice to this day. The team is well versed in administrative and transactional issues, and is frequently sought after to conduct tax burden reviews and advise on transfer pricing issues and disputes. The team is spread across the firm's offices in São Paulo, Rio, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte and Brasília. Clients come from a wide variety of industry sectors, most notably agribusiness, insurance and foodstuffs, and include the likes of Bunge Fertilizantes, Porto Seguro and Nestlé.
Sources say: "They stand out for their dedication, detail-oriented approach and full command of the subject matter."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Fernando Antonio Cavanha Gaia is the key client contact.
THE FIRM This team splits its time between assisting the firm's transactional practice and representing clients in contentious matters. The group also serves as a valuable source of support to the firm's acclaimed real estate and projects divisions.
Sources say: "The lawyers on the team are fast, committed and provide a personalised service."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Alexandre Siciliano Borges joined the firm in March 2013. He is regarded as a notable tax lawyer and combines advisory and litigation expertise.
THE FIRM This practice handles day-to-day tax consultancy for long-term clients, but primarily focuses on providing tax advice in connection with transactional mandates. The firm's tax and corporate teams work hand-in-hand to provide clients with integrated counsel for M&A, cross-border investment and debt restructuring. A recent deal saw the group advise international equity fund Vision Capital on the tax implications of its acquisition of Vitopel, one of the leading production companies in Latin America.
Sources say: "The team provides a prompt service and demonstrates vast experience of these matters."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Antenori Trevisan focuses on tax consultancy and wins praise from clients for his hands-on approach and fluent English.
THE FIRM The three-partner tax team at this firm has vast experience assisting clients from the energy sector, and has gained expertise across a wide spectrum of tax issues associated with the industry. It regularly advises clients on staple tax assessments, corporate restructuring processes, customs matters and planning for large infrastructure projects. A recent standout mandate was advising Cameron International on a tax contingency case worth BRL35 million.
Sources say: "We appreciate the firm's ability to provide comprehensive support across a range of practice areas."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Founding partner Ivan Tauil is well regarded by market sources for his expert tax advice.
Roberta Caneca specialises in indirect taxes and customs in the oil and gas sector.
THE FIRM Tax matters make up a significant proportion of this firm's workload, and the team shares clients with other core areas such as corporate and disputes. The group often lends support in M&A deals, tax planning and litigation, and its contentious practice further benefits from the lead partner's experience as a member of Brazil's Administrative Tax Appeals Council.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Head of department Antonio Carlos Guidoni Filho undertakes a degree of consultancy work, but is best known for his skill in handling tax litigation. "Antonio has profound knowledge of contentious administrative procedures," enthuse sources.
Eduardo Borges focuses primarily on litigation and receives praise for his well-rounded advice: "He is vastly knowledgeable in tax and he is also well versed in accountancy and economics - this combination results in excellent service."
THE FIRM This firm is regularly retained by financial institutions owing its notable expertise in the tax issues specific to this sector. The compact team works in close conjunction with the firm's corporate finance partners, and provides support for the analysis of financial structures, corporate reorganisations and tax credits.
Sources say: "The team is quick, precise and shows strong dedication and technical quality."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Rubens José Novakoski Fernandes Velloza draws enthusiastic praise from clients, who laud him as a great strategist and an expert in high-end finance taxation.
Andrea Nogueira Neves and Fernanda Junqueira Calazans are valuable members of the team and primarily act in direct taxation.
THE FIRM This mid-sized firm is restructuring its tax practice following the departure of part of the team in late 2012. The four-partner group handles a mix of tax litigation and consultancy work, and serves a primarily domestic clientele. Notable clients in this area include Drogaria São Paulo, Alcoa Alumínio and Lupatech.
Sources say: "We value the personal involvement of the firm's partners."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department head Sylvio Fernando Paes de Barros Jr provides consultancy and contentious counsel.
Jorge Henrique Amaral Zaninetti moved to Araújo e Policastro from Siqueira Castro in May 2014. Zaninetti focuses his practice on tax consultancy, litigation and fiscal planning.
THE FIRM The tax practice at this well-known Minas Gerais player is an essential part of the firm's full-service profile. Tax issues are dealt with as a component of the firm's broader commercial counsel, and include both strategic and day-to-day matters such as tax planning for corporate restructurings and the analysis of sector-specific tax regimes. Key clients in this area include Votorantim, Construtora Cowan and HSBC.
Sources say: "The tax team stands out for its sound advice and knowledge of the market."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The main contact for clients is Aldo de Paula Junior.
THE FIRM This five-partner team is spread across the firm's Rio and São Paulo offices, and works closely with the corporate, disputes, energy and environment teams to provide clients with multidisciplinary support for their tax issues. The group's caseload includes consultancy and litigation mandates, and representative clients in this area include industry associations and local subsidiaries of multinational companies.
Sources say: "The partners are business-minded and committed to their clients' goals."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Marcos Barbosa and Rodrigo Maito da Silveira are highlighted for their technical quality and strong client care.
THE FIRM This traditional São Paulo player has an established tax practice which regularly supports clients with their corporate, M&A, restructuring and real estate mandates. The team also provides tax-specific consultancy and represents clients in litigation proceedings. Recent highlights include assisting Taveri Participações with an administrative dispute concerning real estate transfer tax.
Sources say: "Communication was smooth despite the multi-jurisdictional nature of the transaction."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients recommend Mauricio de Carvalho Silveira Bueno for his attentive manner and ability to lead complex cases.
THE FIRM This firm provides clients with tax consultancy services and representation for administrative contentious issues. The team has experience advising clients across many key industries, namely oil and gas, telecoms and construction. It recently acted for Jornal do Commercio in lodging an appeal against a tax assessment, arguing the non-applicability of ICMS (state VAT) to public notices published in the newspaper.
KEY INDIVIDUALS The point of contact for clients is Creuza Coelho.
THE FIRM Clients laud this team's profound knowledge of the country's tax regime and note its ability to offer effective, business-minded advice. The firm specialises in litigation and has a great deal of experience in representing domestic corporates before the Administrative Tax Appeals Council (CARF). High-profile clients include Ambev, AES Eletropaulo and Porto Seguro.
Sources say: "The team is technically strong and makes us feel very confident about the quality of the work."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Marcelo Prado is the key contact for clients.
THE FIRM This firm was set up in 2012 by a team of partners who left Araújo e Policastro. The compact but experienced tax group has hit the ground running, and already shows signs of a solid practice and client list. The team recently advised automotive subcontractor EDAG on the tax issues relating to imports and technology transfer, and further highlights have included assisting high-end fashion house Hugo Boss with the tax planning for its local subsidiary.
Sources say: "The team goes beyond the purely legal realm, demonstrating a strong business vision and experience in negotiations."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Founder Gerd Rothmann is a German-born and educated lawyer who frequently advises clients from that country. Clients praise his language skills and note: "It's rare to have such direct access to lawyers of his seniority."
Marcio Carneiro Sperling earns broad acclaim for his client-oriented service: "He is available, responsive and extremely experienced."
Clients are full of praise for Paulo César Teixeira Duarte Filho: "He combines academic depth with profound practical knowledge of national and international law."
THE FIRM This firm is a newcomer to the São Paulo legal market, and its tax team provides clients with a niche practice in finance-specific taxation. The client portfolio features some of the largest banks active in Brazil, such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Banco Múltiplo, BTG Pactual, Morgan Stanley and Citibank. The team's workload in this area consists of assisting clients with the tax side of capital market operations, fund formation and bank lending, as well as transfer pricing and double taxation issues.
Sources say: "We value the team's quick delivery and up-to-date vision of the market."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Christiano Chagas Monteiro De Melo has a strong background in banking and capital markets and is highly regarded by clients for his technical knowledge of these fields.