Evangelical bench seeks Planalto to increase immunity – 03/18/2023 – Politics

Evangelical bench seeks Planalto to increase immunity – 03/18/2023 – Politics

The evangelical caucus began articulating to approve an amendment to the Constitution that increases tax benefits for churches, allowing immunity for spending on electricity and even for the purchase of goods, such as cars and planes.

Specialists in tax law consulted by the Sheet they say that the proposal goes against the decision of the STF (Federal Supreme Court) and has loopholes for distortions, if it is not better regulated later.

The creator of the proposal, deputy Marcelo Crivella (Republicanos-RJ), sought the support of the Palácio do Planalto, which is in a moment of weakness in the National Congress, seeking to build an allied bench.

The parliamentarian met this week with the Minister of the Institutional Relations Secretariat, Alexandre Padilha, to ask for support for the PEC (proposed amendment to the Constitution). Dele heard that, in principle, the government would not oppose the measure, but that the impacts and official position will still be evaluated internally.

According to reports, Padilha would also have said that he would address the issue without a religious filter and that, if the proposal goes ahead, it will be a supra-religious debate and will apply to all faiths and beliefs, from evangelical temples to Umbanda centers.

“I think I’m going to count on his support. I’ve known Padilha for many years. I also know that he supports the work that all religious people do in Brazil, regardless of denomination,” said Crivella.

“We would very much like to have the support of the PT, as we had the support of several other parliamentarians from all parties”, he added. The text had more than 300 signatures to be filed and needs 171 votes in plenary to be approved.

The government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) is still seeking to consolidate its support base in Congress. Padilha does not usually say the number of parliamentarians on the base, because he says that a deputy is not cattle to be counted.

The fact is that the Planalto has been working to, in addition to the votes of allies and broad front parties, seek to expand to centrão parties in the “retail”, including those who were in Jair Bolsonaro’s coalition – in addition to Bolsonaro’s PL, the Republicans and the PP.

The PEC that increases the church’s tax immunity was officially filed on Wednesday (15), with a significant number of signatures: 380. The President of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), announced shortly after that the proposal would be sent “immediately” to the CCJ (Commission of Constitution and Justice).

The proposal exempts not only religious institutions from paying ICMS, ISS and IPI, but also political parties, including foundations, workers’ unions, non-profit education and social assistance institutions, which are already classified by the Constitution as immune.

Therefore, if approved the way it is, it would reduce the electricity bill of a religious temple or the headquarters of a political party, but it could also buy a luxury car in the name of the entity without paying taxes – this is precisely the distortion pointed out by specialists .

“The PEC intends that the goods and services acquired by the churches do not pay ICMS, ISS and/or IPI. For example, if the church buys a car, boat or plane, it would not pay ICMS on the acquisition. If so, it goes much further of any judicial understanding, including the STF”, said Flávio Prado, vice-president of the Delegacia Sindical de Santos do Sindifisco (National Union of Federal Revenue Auditors).

Prado adds that the Supreme Court’s decisions only guaranteed exemption from IPTU and IPVA for church buildings and vehicles.

“Another example: all churches would start paying cheaper energy bills, since there would be no ICMS built into the energy bill. .

For professors of tax law, the measure broadly expands immunity, contrary to the STF, but could come into force, if so judge the parliamentarians. However, not the way it is, it would need modifications to prevent distortions from occurring allowing irregularities.

“Does this constitutional amendment go beyond what the Supreme Court said? Formally, yes, but I think it has to be reviewed. Today, according to the jurisprudence of the STF, what this proposed amendment does is extend. It has subsidies for that, it does, but it is expanding”, said Bianca Xavier, a professor at FGV in Rio de Janeiro.

For Heleno Torres, professor at USP, the proposal can be positive in specific cases, especially for education. He cites, for example, cheaper electricity bills, without ICMS, from municipal schools, with tight budgets.

“What you have to avoid are scandals. There is potential for scandal, abuse, the purchase of a jet for a political party, immunity to buy furniture for the president of a party. This is what you have to curb,” said Torres.

Further, he advocates that the proposal be approved, if there is a complementary law to limit the benefit to essential activities and specify what they are.

In justifying the text, Crivella, licensed bishop of Universal, argues that the objective is only to propose the “textualization” of what the Federal Supreme Court had already decided. However, tax experts point out that it not only extrapolates these decisions but goes in the opposite direction of the understanding of the STF ministers.

The legal decision on which the PEC is based did not specifically concern tax immunity. Today, the norm that is valid is the one that prohibits the expansion of tax benefits on goods and services.

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