With a comprehensive coverage of tax matters especially directed to multinational and global companies, Baker McKenzie S.A.S. handles M&A and transactional advisory and structuring, the design of transfer pricing policies between related parties in different jurisdictions - the firm's office network here proving a distinct asset, and wealth management. The team also enjoys an extensive roster of oil and gas company clients who seek advice on a permanent basis given the firm's particular involvement in the industry. Well-reputed and equally admired by peers and clients, principal tax partner Ciro Meza heads the 12-strong department along with Rodrigo Castillo, leader of the wealth management sub-practice, and senior economist Gustavo Sánchez. The tax litigation practice is now led by senior associate Andrea Jiménez, who joined from the Supreme Administrative Court (Consejo de Estado) in 2019. Other key team members include senior associate Carlos Gómez, who focuses on tax advisory in M&A procedures, among other matters; and semi-senior Ana María López, formerly a tax associate at PwC Tax & Legal Services and Deloitte Asesores y Consultores, and a tax lawyer at Enel Group and Telefónica. Associate Laura Durán, who focuses on consulting and tax planning, is also noted. However, since publication, Castillo has left the firm to open the Bogotá branch of Rimon PC.
Tax in Colombia
Baker McKenzie S.A.S.
‘The quality of the advice is second to none. Timely, accurate and very complete in every which way. Additionally, the team is very practical and easy to work with’.
‘Ciro Meza is always available, has deep industry knowledge and is very up to date on any new tax law changes. His advice is always thorough, practical and very useful’.
‘Laura Duran is always attentive to our questions and need for advice. She has a very strong technical tax background, excellent communications skills and is very easy to work with’.
‘The team that attends the corporate account concentrates in a great way the technical knowledge with the operational implementation. The processes are carried out with efficiency and quality’.
‘Gustavo Sánchez, combines technical, regulatory and operational implementational techniques in an exceptional way. His advice is comprehensive and the solutions are tailored to the needs raised’.
Noble Energy Resources
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)
Public Sector Pension Investment Board
- Advised Altra Investments on structuring the acquisition of a Chilean insurance company, in an operation valued at $28m.
- Provided advice to Biomax to effectively apply the benefits for renewable energy to its corporate tax situation.
- Assisted Noble Energy with the acquisition of a 40% participatory stake from Shell, and deployment in Colombia for the execution of offshore oil and gas investments in a free trade zone.
- Permanent advice to Refocosta, a renewable energy entity investing in several projects in Colombia, on its corporate and tax structuring so as to effectively apply tax benefits.
- Representing a confidential client before the tax authorities on a matter related to the feasability of deducting technical fees.
Full-service firm Brigard Urrutia's interdisciplinary practice group develops tax-efficient structures for all types of transactions (cross-border, M&A operations, inbound and outbound investments and leveraged buyouts) as well as handling all advisory matters, litigation and also offering trust and estate services. The practice also shines in transfer pricing matters, where it maintains a specialised unit. Head of the tax and trust and estates teams, double taxation specialist Lucas Moreno leads the 26-strong practice, along with head of tax Andrés Hernández, who specialises in providing tax advice to PPPs, and the 'exceptional' Catalina Jaramillo, who has driven the development of the firm's tax litigation team (and transfer pricing defence specialism), and was raised to the partnership in January 2020. Key support comes from senior associate Pablo Ángel (national and international tax consultancy and planning) and associate Daniel Duque (tax consulting and planning, corporate and tax restructuring). However, former senior Edgar Ruiz left in May 2020 to establish his own boutique.
‘We had a particular operation that demanded a lot of administrative support in Colombia with us not having a physical presence or resources there. Brigard Urrutia was available at all times to meet our requirements and to complete the task’.
‘We really liked their availability and treatment. Catalina Jaramillo is exceptional’.
‘Their preparation is very thorough, their strategies for dealing with situations with third parties are cautious and comprehensive: “nothing escapes them”’.
‘Friendliness and availability is their biggest plus point. The work really is impeccable and they are very clear in their analysis’.
China Harbour Engineering Company
Amazon Web Services
- Represented Transportadora de Gas Internacional before the Tax Court in a tax litigation case against local municipal authorities challenging the imposition of a levy on the transportation of natural gas.
- Advised China Harbour Engineering Company on its succesful participation in a public bid process for the construction and operation of the Bogotá Metro system.
- Advised AirBnB regarding VAT obligations for foreign service providers that would have to register for tax purposes in Colombia; the advisory expanded into permanent legal counselling on the company’s regular activities.
- Advised Clever Leaves on the tax structuring of its merger with Northern Swan Holdings, including international structuring.
- Advised Wiese Group in relation to a transaction valued at $240m with international investors over the sale of the client’s shares in a subsidiary of Grupo Sura.
Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)'s tax planning expertise is much sought after for relevant deals in the market, as are its capabilities in tax litigation cases. Highly praised Mauricio Piñeros, a three-term president of the Colombian institute of tax law with over 30 years' experience, heads the 13-strong department. Additional partner-level input comes from Álvaro Andrés Díaz, also recommended, who handles tax litigation, tax and estate planning, and transfer pricing matters; and Ignacio Vélez, who specialises in consultancy and tax planning for a wide range of commercial and investment operations. The group also benefits from a talented second line of senior associates including Carolina Bobillier, who worked alongside Piñeros on advice to Bavaria (AB-InBev) regarding equity tax and legal stability contracts, and Alejandro Sanabria, who assisted on the advice to Macquarie Capital for the structuring of the acquisition of the Briceño-Tunja-Sogamoso toll-road concession. Associate Juan Sebastián Bustillo is also noted.
‘Gómez Pinzón’s lawyers are highly trained professionals with a high level of commitment and client support’.
‘Álvaro Díaz: He is an excellent person both from a professional and a personal point of view; he is a very approachable person, who gives answers inmediately, accompanying and monitoring the processes. He has a very good customer-service attitude’.
‘Juan Sebastian Bustillo: he is an excellent professional, diligent, and with a high level of commitment and a very good service attitude at all times’.
‘Being one of the largest companies in Colombia, we work directly with partner Mauricio Piñeros, and he is not like at other firms, arriving with various associates who end up being the only contact for the client’.
‘I am a lawyer licensed to practice in NY and Colombia, which makes me a very demanding client; I have tried with other law firms and in Gómez Pinzón, in particular with Mauricio Piñeros, we have found a tax lawyer who personally answers all our queries in a timely manner, with excellent quality and with totally reasonable rates. Mauricio Piñeros’ reputation as a tax lawyer and his recognition both at the national and international level are totally fair achievements for the work he has been doing for many years, which makes him an authority on the matter’.
Metro de Bogotá
- Tax advisory to Ecopetrol on implementing a joint venture with Occidental Petroleum for the development of non-conventional oil deposits in the Permian basin in the US.
- Tax counsel to Bavaria (AB-InBev) regarding a tax proceeding related to equity tax (applicable to taxpayers from 1 January 2011) and legal stability contracts.
- Advised International Tug on a corporate reorganisation as a condition for the sale of the operation of Intertug in Colombia and Mexico to a Chilean buyer.
- Succesfully represented La Previsora Seguros in litigation against the tax administration in connection with the prescription of the collection of a penalty.
- Provided tax counsel to Avianca regarding several tax proceedings – years 2015 and 2016 – related to the new wealth tax and legal stability contracts.
Lewin & Wills, Abogados
A long-standing name in the sector, boutique market mainstay Lewin & Wills, Abogados is a leading firm in the M&A tax structuring and international taxation segments. The firm is also distinguished in litigation and arbitration at the national and international level regarding tax, foreign exchange and international trade issues. The ten-strong practice group has particularly in-depth knowledge of the financial services, infrastructure, retail, oil, mining, energy and telecommunications industries. Name partner Alfredo Lewin and Adrián Rodríguez (domestic and international tax planning, restructurings and reorganisations) head a department that, with the March 2020 election of Cristina Stiefken (transactional structure design, tax treaties and tax risk) and Juan Andrés Palacios (tax, litigation and wealth planning), boasts six partners and a very healthy partner/associate ratio. On the wealth and estate planning side, Luz Clemencia Alfonso is the name to note; she has considerable experience in the development of relevant structures. Frederico Lewin is on a leave of absence from the firm to undertake his LLM.
Carbones del Cerrejón
Shell Oil Company
Colombian Central Bank
Southern Bridge Capital
- Provided permanent counsel to Carbones del Cerrejón regarding both its day-to-day and extraordinary operations; the advisory includes tax aspects derived from international reorganisations and cross-border debt operations.
- Representation of Carbones del Cerrejon in various tax litigation cases before the Colombian State Council and other tribunals in controversies related to special deductions, transfer pricing rules and other tax-related matters; estimated total value, $70m
- Advising Shell Oil on the company’s trading operations in Colombia; the advisory concerns multiple, complex cross-border matters.
- Ongoing advice to the Colombian Central Bank regarding the tax effects derived from its operations on a day-to-day basis.
- Permanent advisory to Disan regarding the tax implications of the company’s corporate structure, as well as representation of the company in tax controversies before national and local tax authorities.
Rendering a full tax services offering, and additional regional outreach to Perú, Chile and Spain through the firm's consolidated office presence, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría's practice is recommended for its knowledge, proactivity and clarity towards the client. Managing partner Martín Acero and tax planning and structuring specialist Carolina Rozo - highly regarded in the tax legal market, according to sources - co-lead the 17 strong team. The transfer pricing practice was boosted with the May 2019 hire of Christian Gómez, formerly a supervisor at KPMG, as a transfer pricing senior associate to work alongside Sandra Pineda, the firm's regional transfer pricing director. The team is currently dealing with a major transfer pricing dispute before the tax authorities. Elsewhere, the team demonstrates expertise in M&A tax structuring, local and offshore tax planning, private client work and tax litigation. Barranquilla office head Héctor Ramírez handles tax structuring and transactional tax matters, while senior associate Verónica Barone focuses on local and international taxation, customs, and international trade. Up-and-coming associate Leonardo Cote is also noted. However, principal associate Diego Velandia left the firm to pursue his LLM in Madrid.
‘They have knowledge and clarity in the exposition of their concepts‘.
‘Clarity of concepts. They are always one step ahead‘.
Latam Logistic Col Opco
Mexico Infraestructure Partners
CAF Investment Projects
Frontera Energy Colombia
Mesoamerica Andino Colombia
- Advised Toyota on the restructuring of the group’s activities in a free trade zone; the advisory involved determining whether the entities of the group are related for transfer pricing purposes in order to determine the corresponding obligations.
- Accompanied Celsia in the purchase of energy company Enertolima, involving tax structuring of the operation for maximum tax efficiency.
- Designed the legal and tax structure for the efficient financing of the Metro de Bogota project on behalf of CAF Investment Projects; the advisory also covered different tax structures for the financing of the project, analysis and legal aspects of the bid, and regulatory analysis of the project.
- Assisted Frontera Energy with analysis of the tax effects derived from the company’s international reorganisation process, determining the tax regime applicable to international mergers and spin-offs and permanent establishment issues.
- Advised Covalor on the design of a trust structure in order to include Parque Arauco as an investor in the Alegra Barranquilla shopping mall project, considering the tax treatment applicable to trusts in Colombia and the conditions and interests of the parties involved.
Recommended both for the quality of its advice and careful accompaniment of clients, Posse Herrera Ruiz's 'benchmark' practice provides comprehensive coverage of all tax-related matters, including transactional tax, restructuring, planning, litigation, transfer pricing and private wealth matters. Juan Guillermo Ruiz heads a weighty 26-strong tax, customs and international trade department, which is also consulted on tax laws and regulation by the Colombian government and Congress, with Ruiz's recent assistance to the Ministry of Finance regarding the sale of utility Interconexión Eléctrica a case in point. Juan Camilo de Bedout heads up the tax litigation sub-department, while the current president of IFA Colombia, Juan David Velasco, leads the transactional team. Among relevant associates, Jaime Gómez, who focuses on tax planning for individuals and tax structures for corporate clients, was appointed practice director in February 2020; however, Julian Uribe left the firm in December 2019 and has subsequently joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP as an international associate.
[Recomended for their] ‘knowledge on tax matters affecting the client’s different businesses and their impact on the organisation; and knowledge of local and international regulations. They are a benchmark in the market and their quality is undeniable’.
‘They are very good professionals, they know the topics in depth and their concepts are very precise. The best virtue is the service and constant support to the client in any process’.
‘The personalised attention by the partner and his team make this practice unique’.
‘The lawyers stand out for their excellent service’.
Grupo Pão de Açúcar
Ministerio de Hacienda (Ministry of Finance and Public Credit)
APCA Metro Capital
- Advised retailer Sendas (a subsidiary of Grupo Pão de Açúcar) on launching a tender offer for Almacenes Éxito, involving legal advice concerning the tax implications, in particular those relating to passive incomes and indirect disposals; deal value, $2.2 bn.
- Advised the Ministry of Finance in connection with the sale of Interconexión Eléctrica (ISA), a mixed public utility company involved with energy, telecoms and road projects in Latin America; the Colombian government has a 51.47% holding.
- Advised Almacenes Éxito regarding several discussions with the tax authorities, concerning income tax, VAT and a tax on consumption.
- Provided tax advice to Coltejer’s shareholders in relation to the demerger of the company’s real estate assets from its textile operations.
- Instructed by APCA Metro Capital, one of the bidders for the construction of Bogota’s first metro line, to provide tax structuring advice in relation to the client’s proposal.
Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas
Advising primarily multinationals and regional subsidiaries on their Colombian operations, Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas' comprehensive tax offering arches from day-to-day advisory and planning, to transactional tax matters and acting in internal reorganisations and corporate restructurings. The eight-strong team is also well-reputed for obtaining favourable results in litigation and disputes. Camilo Cortés, who acts across the firm's M&A and trusts, estates and wealth preservation groups, heads the practice group. Key members include experienced figures Carmen Sanabria, who recently advised Penguin Random House on its new shareholder structure, and Ernesto Lopez, who led representation of Moloko in a $10m refund request following an incorrect withholding. Associate director of the transfer pricing team Germán Andrés Bohórquez and associate Natalia Dávila are also noted.
Moloko / Tubarao
Penguin Random House
Pierson Capital/ Hoteles Charleston
J Walter Thompson
BofA Securities, Citigroup Global Markets, JP Morgan Securities, Deutsche Bank Securities and Goldman Sachs
Crown Cork and Seal
- Represented Moloko and Tubarao in a $10m tax refund request originating from a wrongly made withholding; the matter involved the application of double taxation treaties, which led to a thorough inspection from the tax authorities.
- Assisted Penguin Random House with completing the steps for a new shareholder structure in compliance with Colombia’s tax and foreign exchange regulations.
- Advised Pierson Capital and Hoteles Charleston in response to the challenge of the 2019 income tax return wherein the tax authorities rejected the deduction of interest and the foreign exchange losses related to loans granted to related parties.
- Accompanied J Walter Thompson on its merger with RMG Connect and C&C Action Marketing.
Full-service firm DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán's tax department has an international approach and advises multinationals and multi-latinas on cross-border transactions and business strategy implementation from a tax perspective. The department was further strengthened in 2020, principally with the February 2020 hiring of Cesar Cermeño - previously at Garrigues - as partner and head of the tax litigation area; he also co-leads the overall 11-strong practice with Andrés González, who heads up the tax advisory and private wealth departments. Senior associates Maria Alejandra Buitrago and Camila Cuberos are also key members of a practice group that was strengthened at associate level with the arrival of Krishu Miranda, joining from the country's General Public Prosecutor's Office. Headline mandates saw the team advise Grupo Exito on the development of the tax structure that permitted two of the largest M&A transactions in 2019: the sale of 55% of the group's shares to Grupo Pao Açucar and Groupe Casino; and the sale of 50% of Sésgisor to Groupe Casino.
Clinica de la Mujer
- Provided general tax advice to Uber and also assisted the company with the design and implementation of new business models including Uber Eats, among others.
- Advised Shell on the development of an efficient tax structure for its investments in Colombia and internationally; the advisory included cross-border tax strategy and implementation.
- Advised Avianca on a $30m dispute before the DIAN which rejected the treatment of the company’s operations in the framework of a legal stability contract; the litigation involves aspects of legal stability contracts, commercial law and accounting issues.
- Represented Kimberly Clark in multiple actions against an undue charging of the public lighting tax by the municipality of Tejada.
- Legal advisors to Grupo Éxito on the tax structuring and execution of two major M&A transactions.
Garrigues' tax team is recommended for being innovative, supportive, efficient and quick. Led by Camilo Zarama, the eight-strong department advises on national and international tax planning and corporate tax restructuring. On the contentious side, the practice is often involved in high-profile controversies before tax government agencies and entities at national, departmental and municipal levels. Of counsel Fernando Zarama, with over 30 years' experience, and principal associate Laura Galeano are also key members of a team highlighted for its dedication and closeness to the client. However, counsel César Cermeño left to join DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán in February 2020.
‘Exceeds expectations. As clients, we are highly supported and widely satisfied with their ideas and tax advice’.
‘[We value] their dedication studying the cases, asking the right questions and delivering solid and accurate results’.
‘Garrigues has a very professional and, above all, innovative team, which always gives added value to the needs of their clients. They exceed other offices’.
‘Their pluses are innovation and warmth. They differ from the others because with them you feel as if you were with that coworker who always has a solution. [We value] how strategic they are, their professionalism and their aptitude for service. Camilo Zarama, Laura Galeano and Patrick Barros are recomended’.
‘They are very responsive and provide a quick and timely answer’.
‘It is a solid team, with the due knowledge, ready to collaborate and communicate with each other’.
Australis Partners Fund
Polipropileno del Caribe (Grupo Empresarial Ecopetrol)
BAT-British American Tobacco
Winner Group (a subsidiary of Cirsa)
- Represented Esenttia (Grupo Ecopetrol) in a lawsuit filed against the DIAN challenging the rejection of expenses incurred in the maintenance of a piece of equipment called a splitter, as one of the company’s fixed assets.
- Advised Legis on the tax planning for the company’s corporate restructuring.
- Representation of Aero Republica before the DIAN challenging the rejection of adjustments made by the company following a transfer pricing study.
- Ongoing defence of Industria Militar Colombiana (INDUMIL) against various lawsuits filed by Carbones del Cerrejón (CC) for allegedly setting and charging a social tax on explosives imported by CC.
Founded in 2004, tax specialists Godoy & Hoyos Abogados SAS has grown steadily over the years and expanded its corporate and energy practice areas, consolidating into a mid-size firm. Led by Catalina Hoyos and Juan Pablo Godoy, the fruits of this growth can be seen, for example, in the team's involvement in the financial closure of the Autopista al Mar 1, a fourth-generation (4G) infrastructure project. The eight-strong tax team is also co-led by Mónica Hernández, raised to the partnership in March 2019, who also leads the transfer pricing practice. At associate level, practice director Catalina Amaris is well-versed in infrastructure matters, and Luís Felipe Noreña, who has broad expertise in litigation and also handles tax consulting. Since publication, the firm has opened an office in Costa Caribe under the direction of Amaris, while Noreña has been appointed head of the Medellín office (effective as of December 2020).
‘It is an exceptional team bringing personalised attention’.
‘Juan Pablo Godoy is an excellent lawyer, who provides personalised attention, with his extensive knowledge and experience in tax law. He provides legal advice with a business perspective, which is a great additional value’.
‘Availability, knowledge and great capacity for analysis’.
‘They always have the ability to go further and analyse other alternatives. The communication with the client is fluent’.
Mafer Real Estate de Colombia
Concesionaria Desarrollo Vial al Mar (Devimar)
Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM)
Chubb Seguros Colombia
Telefónica Móviles Colombia (Movistar)
Occidental de Colombia
- The team participated in the financial closure of the Autopista al Mar 1 project on behalf of the concessionaire Devimar and its sponsors, delivering tax accompaniment to Sociedad Concesionaria Desarrollo Vial al Mar (Sacyr Concesiones, Strabag y Concay) and its sponsors, in order to obtain a financing of over $600m.
- Advised Empresas Publicas de Medellin, currently developing a $32bn, 10-year investment plan, on the revision of the regulations and investment compliance of requirements.
- Advised Vitol on the local purchase of crude oil and subsequent sale to Ecopetrol.
- Assisted Mafer Real Estate (part of Yanbal Internacional), on becoming the provider of real estate solutions for third parties signing an alliance with private vehicle CAFAM.
Tax boutique Quiñones Cruz handles tax litigation cases and provides tax advisory and planning, as well as tax policy projects of considerable technical depth. The firm's strength in litigation was demonstrated recently in its successful first instance representation of Bavaria in a $70m case. Founding partners Lucy Cruz, a prominent constitutional tax expert and litigator, and territorial tax specialist Antonio Quiñones co-head the seven-strong team. Moreover the firm can count on a strong upcoming generation, notably Diego Quiñones Cruz, a litigator in domestic and international tax, and international tax specialist Natalia Quiñones, both of whom recently re-joined the firm, Diego from his D.Phil (all the firm's partners have doctorates), and Natalia from a leave of absence to act for Colombia's Ministry of Finance as the lead international tax treaty negotiator and Colombia’s representative before the OECD for tax matters.
Seguros del Estado
- Represented Ecopetrol in a $60m tax controversy with the Municipality of Barrancabermeja concerning the ICA (business tax) for the tax year 2014.
- Represented Bavaria on a $70m tax controversy regarding the deductibility of certain financial derivative payments from Bavaria’s CIT; a favourable first instance ruling was obtained from the Superior Contentious Administrative Tribunal of Bogotá and the case is now before the Council of State, the highest tax court, for a second instance ruling.
- The firm led a tax policy project to assist Confecámaras, the Confederation of Chambers of Commerce, that led to changes in tax legislation concerning the treatment of the payments made by companies to the chambers of commerce for their affiliation and registration.
- The firm is representing LG against the DIAN in a pioneering case in terms of setting a precedent for the treatment of conditional discounts, a common practice in the retail sector, in terms of their CIT deductibility.
Cahn-Speyer, Paredes & Asociados
Well-reputed litigator Paul Cahn-Speyer leads tax boutique Cahn-Speyer, Paredes & Asociados, which primarily advises on transfer pricing matters, restructuring and investments, as well as litigation. The practice is also experienced in international taxation, trade and commerce, and sanctions imposed for non-compliance. 2019 mandates saw the team handle the international tax advisory aspects of TM Medicas' recent consolidation by acquisition of its shareholding and subsequent reorganisation (involving Germany, Japan and Italy); and assist RTA Design's multi-jurisdictional investments in support of the internationalisation of the company.
‘Paul Cahn-Speyer is one of the most recognised tax lawyers in the country.’
- Handled the international tax advisory aspects of TM Medicas’ recent consolidation of its shareholding (by acquisition) and consequent reorganization (involving Germany, Japan and Italy).
- Advised RTA Design’s multi-jurisdictional investments in support of the internationalisation of the company.
Jimenez Higuita Rodriguez & asociados
A new entry to the tables, Jiménez Higuita Rodríguez & Asociados opened its doors in 2017; nonetheless four of the founders had previously worked together in a 'Big Four' accounting firm. The boutique specialises in consulting, structuring, corporate matters, and customs and exchange law for a broad array of industries. It additionally acts in dispute resolution cases. With between 15 and 25 years' practice experience, four partners co-head the 12-strong firm. Highlight matters saw managing partner Julián Jiménez advise on the design and incorporation of a private equity fund in Canada. Fellow co-heads Jairo Alberto Higuita and Bibiana Buitrago, experienced in serving companies operating in the securities market and fiduciaries, assisted Bolsa de Valores de Colombia with the tax structure of a crowdfunding platform, while Carlos Giovanni Rodríguez has been active advising on gaming concessions. The firm made multiple associate-level incorporations during the course of 2019, and in January 2020 hired Tomás Barreto, formerly at his own tax boutique, as a partner; he focuses on customs, foreign trade and indirect taxes. The firm is Andersen Global's local Colombian partner.
Bolsa de Valores de Colombia (BVC)
Grupo Femsa Coca Cola
Vass Consultoria de Sistemas Colombia
- Advised Bolsa de Valores de Colombia on the tax structure of A2censo, a crowdfunding digital platform; the firm provides permanent counsel regarding the tax effects of the client’s operations to the stock exchange, as well as on day-to-day activities and in relation to regulatory developments.
- Permanent advice to Grupo IGT regarding the operation of gaming concessions in Colombia; additionally the firm succesfully assisted the company with a tax audit for the decision of revisable taxable periods.
- Advised and accompanied Grupo Ethuss on the design of Ethus Energy, involving the incorporation and implementation of a private equity fund in Canada, with the objective of obtaining long-term capital gains from investments in companies in the power sector.
- Conducted the international tax planning and transfer pricing of OneLink BPO-related foreign companies in the jurisdictions of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama.
Mauricio A. Plazas Vega Abogados & Asociados
Leading lawyer Mauricio Plazas heads the eponymous Mauricio A. Plazas Vega Abogados & Asociados, a tax boutique specialised in general tax, tax planning assistance and litigation. Past clients include Grasco, Cemex Colombia, Yambol de Colombia and ExxonMobil.
Montaña & Consultores Asociados
Boutique firm Montaña & Consultores Asociados has recognised expertise in tax law and urban planning, offering advice on territorial, urban, environmental and cadastral tax law to both public and private entities, as well as handling associated litigation cases. Managing partner Magda Cristina Montaña and legal director Andrea Monsalve have advised the authorities of Barranquilla, Bucaramanga and the capital of Bogotá, among others, on the design for the correct administration of their tax systems. The team has also worked on the implementation of financing instruments such as the auction of building rights. The five-strong practice undertakes tax structuring, management and the financing of public infrastructure projects. Director of urban and tax matters Yolyn Carolina Rodríguez is also a key member of the practice.
‘The team is excellent, as they have all the necessary experience and knowledge in the field of taxes. Their advantage over other firms is their exclusive dedication to tax law, which makes their approach much more exhaustive and effective’.
‘Magda Montaña’s knowledge and experience makes her unique. She is disciplined, efficient and an excellent professional. Andrea Monsalve is disciplined, focused on results and an excellent professional. She has extensive experience, which allows her to adequately solve any legal request’.
Alcaldía de Barranquilla
Alcaldía de Mosquera
Area Metropolitana de Bucaramanga
Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional
Empresa de desarrollo urbano de Barranquilla y la Región Caribe (EDUBAR)
The World Bank Group
Banco de Occidente
Instituto Colombiano de Derecho Tributario
- Legal advice to the District of Barranquilla on structuring the regulatory model of district taxes, designing the model to manage the District’s tax administration, and also its control; additionally structuring the judicial defence of the laws and regulations on which said taxes are established.
- Advisory to Transmilenio on urban and institutional regulatory matters regarding the implementation of the permanent transport infrastructure system and the integral management of the system’s normativity.
- Advised Empresa de desarrollo urbano de Barranquilla y la Región Caribe (EDUBAR) on urban development projects and the application of financing instruments in the district of Barranquilla.
- Signed a contract with the National Development Finance Company in order to structure a pilot model of the application of the national valuation contribution.
Osman & Rodríguez Abogados
Tax boutique Osman & Rodríguez Abogados is led by Pedro Pablo Osman, who is 'deeply knowledgeable and experienced in Colombian tax matters'. The three-strong area renders tax consultancy services regarding national and subnational taxes, tax planning, cross-border transactions and estate planning, among others, assisting a wide array of national and international clients. The practice is recommended for providing 'fast and efficient' advice in combination with a high specialisation. Associates Osman & Rodríguez Abogados and Jorge Benavides, specialised in corporate and labour law, complete the team.
‘Pedro Pablo Osman’s leadership is brilliant. He provides fast, timely and efficient solutions for his clients‘.
‘They understand with precision the customer’s type of business and the goals and need clients want to fulfill’.
‘The founding partner, Pedro Pablo Osman, is deeply knowledgeable and experienced in Colombian tax matters. His attention to inquiries is timely, personal and thorough’.
‘Our work is usually personally attended to by Pedro Pablo Osman. His advice is practical and his recommendations are directly implementable. Our communication is handled via email, phone, or in meetings and we usually go over alternative scenarios, options, pros and cons, and reach a preferred course of action. All is handled in a highly time-efficient manner’.
‘The strengths are the team’s knowledge and experience, which is reflected in the advice and results obtained, in addition, they always have a very good disposition to serve their clients and seek to support them in the best possible way’.
‘The experience that Pedro Osman has, who is the person with whom we have worked with, is very important to confer security to the development of tax incentives, since this subject is very delicate and important for our company’.
Consorcio Canales Nacionales Privados
Monroe de Colombia
Julián Arango Producciones
Lycée Français Louis Pasteur
Organización Fundación de la Mujer
Organización La Paz
RB Deco (Roche Bobois)
- Provided the third phase of continuous tax and legal advisory to a leading national and international micro-finance entity, as a result of its overall restructuring undertaken in 2017.
- Tax and legal advisory on the spin-off of the interest of a Colombian company in a local insurance claim adjuster.
- Undertook the second phase of the tax and legal advisory in the overall restructuring of a group of companies that are involved in real estate and agricultural businesses; the advisory included corporate restructuring, tax planning, and drafting of corporate documents and contracts.
- Advised on the structuring of sustainable construction projects for a Colombian consulting company focused on sustainable construction.
Rueda Mantilla Abogados
Founded in 1995, tax boutique Rueda Mantilla Abogados handles all tax-related services, including corporate reorganisations and wealth management. Recommended for 'their knowledge of the administrative tax procedures carried out by the DIAN and their special ability to settle legal disputes' at local and national level, the lawyers also specialise in advising companies in the process of restructuring, insolvency and bankruptcy. Founder and managing partner Hernando Rueda, a former head of taxation at the Bogotá tax office and director of insolvency at the Superintendency of Companies, heads the nine-strong firm. Associate David Rueda, who directs the tax area, is also a name to note.
‘They are recommended because of their knowledge of the administrative tax procedures carried out by the DIAN and their special ability to settle legal disputes’.
‘Hernando Rueda is a lawyer with experience and knowledge in handling matters before the DIAN and has a captivating ability to design legal strategies for managing a contingency’.
‘Their knowledge and opportunity stand out’.
‘Hernando Rueda and David Rueda are recommended’.
- Advised an insurance company on the liquidation and payment of damages policies; the advisory was also focused on the tax aspects of the restructuring process and included advising the client on the structuring of a dispute against the DIAN, aimed at the recovery of sums paid for certain policies.
- Succesfully represented a company in litigation against the DIAN requesting direct repair of the damages caused to the client by the illegal confiscation of merchandise destined for export.
- Represented a services company in several lawsuits against various administrative acts dictated by DIAN that imposed sanctions on the client for the abnormal termination of a Temporary Import Regime.
Tax boutique SanintRivas is highly specialised in transfer pricing owing to the experience of founding partner Laura Sanint, formerly in charge of that area in PPU. Founding partner Daniela Rivas, a former in-house lawyer at BTG Pactual and Avianca, specialises in tax planning, consulting, compliance and litigation. The firm offers strategic advice on setting comprehensive transfer policies, and its defence, regularly advising Comercializadora Internacional de Bananeros Unidos de Santa Marta (Banasan). 2019 highlights show the firm often working in projects with an urban, real estate or agribusiness component, such as the advisory Agropecuaria Bambusa on a stockbreeding project, and the legal counsel to Constructora Crespo regarding alternatives to invest in real estate projects located in Ecuador.
PQC Power Quality Control
Exportadora Itata Spa
Comercializadora Internacional de Bananeros Unidos de Santa Marta (Banasan)
Inversiones y Construcciones Incol
Hotel Quadrifolio Holdings
- Advised Constructora Crespo on the alternatives to invest from Colombia into Ecuador in a real estate project, analysing different structure alternatives of investment based on the laws of both countries; the advisory included analysis of the impact from the Andean Community’s rules on double taxation.
- Permanent advice to Comercializadora Internacional de Bananeros Unidos de Santa Marta (Banasan) on corporate tax and transfer pricing.
- Legal counsel to Hacienda San Jose project from Agropecuaria Bambusa, a large-scale stockbreeding project in the department of Vichada; the advisory was regarding a VAT exclusion that was regulated during 2019.
- Advised PQC Power Quality Control regarding the alternatives for executing its services in Colombia as it was participating in a private bid to be selected as project manager of the development of a data center in Colombia by a Chilean group.
Holland & Knight’s tax team provides advice on international and national transactional tax and on currency exchange matters, as well as offering preventive advisory and handling litigation proceedings. Juan Carlos Valencia, who has consolidated a 20-year track record in dealing with tax controversies before the DIAN, municipal tax authorities and the State Council, heads the four-strong practice. Associate María Kamila Pineda is well-versed in the incorporation of national and foreign companies and their branches; while associate Rafael Lafont has extensive experience in foreign exchange, in-bound and out-bound investment projects and double taxation matters. All are praised for their quick response capacity, understanding the needs of the client and being proactive.
‘They handle the topics in a practical and simple way’.
‘When we require some information, the answer is quick and clear, whether you have consulted directly with Juan Carlos Valencia or with one of the lawyers on his team, María Kamila Pineda or Rafael Lafont’.
‘Firstly, they have a very quick response capacity and they understand perfectly when the client needs something urgently and they act accordingly. On the other hand, they have extensive knowledge on all the queries we make and are very proactive in letting us know if they think that any new law or regulation may affect the client’.
‘With all the professionals of the office with whom we have had contact, their level of knowledge in taxes is very high and very focused on the business that our company carries out. Rafael Lafont has excellent customer service and our business is not easy to understand, however he has become familiar with our business and perfectly understands all our needs’.
Fundación Universitaria del Área Andina
Autorregulador del Mercado de Valores
- Permanent legal tax advice on the day-to-day operation of Fundación Universitaria del Área Andina, as well as on the structuring of several international corporate transactions for the acquisition of two universities abroad; the team also assisted the client with successful foreign exchange litigation before the DIAN.
- Permanent legal tax advice to Autorregulador del Mercado de Valores and assistance regarding the filing of tax returns, legal treatment of all taxes and in the management and implementation of electronic invoicing.
Medellín-based Contexto Legal S.A. offers transactional tax planning and advisory regarding restructurings, M&A and other operations. The nine-strong department is led by Carlos Andrés González, who has advised major public and private companies on national and international transactions; and Federico Escobar, who has extensive experience in tax consulting, both for businesses and private parties. The practice is particularly active in the financial, transportation, technology and telecommunication industry sectors. Associates Marcela García Ciro and Eliana Garcés are also key members of the team.
Libera Suply Chain Finance
BTG Pactual (Comisionista de Bolsa)
Compañía de Créditos Rápidos
Compañía Colombiana de Cacao
Aquila Global Group
Metro de Medellín
Clínica Las Vegas
- Advised Metro de Medellín on the design of the tax structure for its association with a foreign company with the purpose of participating in the operation of the Bogotá Metro.
- Advised Aquila Global Group on the design and legal structuring of the entry of a foreign investor into the company, including the transfer of financial and technological resources.
The go-to firm for all legal matters related to the aviation industry, Parra Rodríguez Abogados is strongly recommended by clients, bringing 'excellence in the development of all processes'. The five-strong team assists national and international corporations in connection with tax compliance and planning, as well as undertaking litigation before the courts and tax authorities. Practice co-heads Álvaro Parra (name partner and a recognised 'tax heavyweight') and María Margarita Parra, both of whom have over 30 years' experience in the sector, also offer (along with Augusto Figueroa) unrivalled experience in the airline sector. Associates Luís Fernando Díaz (local and international tax planning) and Juan José Goyeneche (territorial tax, tax treaties, planning and compliance) complete the team, which - among other highlights - provided tax advice on contracts for the financing and fiduciary rights for the use and operation of airliners in Colombia.
‘Knowledge and experience’.
‘Excellence in the development of all processes’.
‘Parra Rodriguez Abogados’ team advises us on each and every one of the tax and legal aspects of our operations in Colombia. They have several specialists, who have allowed us to understand each of the problems we have encountered, and which have allowed us to make the correct decisions on time’.
‘Parra Rodríguez Abogados has a team of professional lawyers with great expertise, so the quality of their services is in line with their prices’.
‘Álvaro Parra Gómez is thoughly recomended‘.
- Tax advice on contracts for the financing and fiduciary rights for the use and operation of airliners in Colombia.
- Represented the client in litigation against the tax authority for the return of funds improperly collected.
Cañon & Cañon Abogados SAS
Boutique firm Cañon & Cañon Abogados SAS is recognised for its strength in wealth planning and offers tailored advice on all tax-related matters. With a focus on international tax planning, the 11-strong firm acts for multinational companies from a wide array of industries, but shines particularly in the renewable power sector. Carolina Cañón and Carlos Andrés Cañón co-lead the practice, whose advice was sought by the UPME - the planning entity of the Ministry of Energy and Mines - on devising tax benefits for the development of renewable projects. The team is currently advising Colibri Energy on the development of several solar power projects for Bavaria Brewery.
Continua Energy – Trina Solar
Provenzal – L’Occitane
Logytech Mobile – Dinatech Mobile
- Advised Continua Energy – Trina Solar on the definition of the international investment strategy for the development of energy investment projects with a value of $100m; the advisory included the identification of tax benefits in the application of double taxation agreements.
- Advised Farmacol Chinoin on the $10m acquisition of Takeda Laboratory in Colombia, including origination of the international tax planning.
- Represented a company in the hospitality sector in litigation against the DIAN, in relation to its declaration of income liabilities of $5m.
Founded in 2014, Ghan Abogados specialises in international tax law, transfer pricing and tax structuring for projects, and has notable experience advising public institutions and private parties in the power sector on strategies for the use of tax benefits in renewable power projects. Managing partner Óscar Iván González, who has over 15 years' experience acting for national and international clients from a wide of industries, heads the three-strong boutique. Senior associate Diana Alexandra Contreras has past experience in a 'Big Four' accounting firm and focuses on the designing and implementation of tax corporate and equity planning strategies.
‘The Ghan team is highly trained and studious, which makes their advice always reliable. With their advice we have never had setbacks.‘
‘Óscar Iván González is always attentive and his responses are quick.‘
‘I’ve known Oscar Gonzalez for several years. He has always been very profound, paying attention to details. He is well structured and always studies a problem based on the main law principles. I trust his knowledge.‘
Sec+Latam Comunicaciones Estratégicas
Continautos (Main Chevrolet concessionaire in Colombia)
Enerfin Sociedad de Energía
Akuo Energy Colombia
EDF Renewables Colombia
Universidad de los Andes
Empaques Industriales de Colombia (Grupo Surpapel)
Carestream Health Colombia
Agribio Colombia (Dummen Orange Group)
- Advised AES Chivor regarding the application of tax incentives to several solar and wind energy projects; in particular, the advisory analysed the feasibility of applying tax incentives to the acquisition of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) owner of a project with 549MW capacity.
- Offered legal counsel to Stuttgart in connection with the due diligence, tax structuring and implementation of the acquisition of Automercol, Daimler’s concessionaire in Colombia.
Known for its specialism in real estate, Pinilla González & Prieto Abogados is the place to go for advice on local taxation regarding land and property, providing legal counsel on the tax aspects of real estate project development. María Helena Padilla directs a six-strong team that covers the entire spectrum of transactional, advisory and litigation work. Padilla, who joined from DirecTv Latin America in May 2019, is an expert in real estate law and telecommunication taxes, and also has extensive dispute resolution experience. Senior associate Melissa López is responsible for the dispute and compliance areas, while corporate department co-head Julian Felipe Rojas also intervenes in the sector.
Cimento Inmuebles Comerciales
MPS Mayorista de Colombia
Jardines del Apogeo
- Represented Apiros before the tax authority in a dispute related to obtaining the refund of overpaid construction tax.
- Acted on behalf of Belenus before the IGAC- Instituto Geografico Agustin Codazzi, to increase the value of seven properties and neutralize the impact of the gift tax upon said sale.
- Undertook due diligence on behalf of Macro proyecto Ciudad Verde for the acquisition of Livit.
Rodríguez Bravo Abogados S.A.S.
Recommended for bringing a personalised attention and expertise on international tax and wealth management, boutique firm Rodríguez Bravo Abogados S.A.S. was established in 2016 by Sebastián Rodriguez, the former head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s tax department in Colombia. The four-strong practice advises national and multinational corporate and financial clients on tax and exchange regime planning, analysing and solving tax matters in relation to Colombian legislation and also in relation to other jurisdictions such as the US, including performing operations for non-tax residents. On the consultancy side, the team undertook the tax planning for a financial product involving $50m in annual loans on behalf of Scotiabank Colpatria. The team also undertakes litigation before the tax authorities and tribunals.
‘Incomparable expertise in tax law for non-tax residents, knowledgeable of the US tax legal framework, which gives them an excellent view regarding tax and exchange obligations for people or investors residing in the US with operations in Colombia’.
‘Creators of important tax content (editorials, booklets, concepts, articles) that advance the understanding of tax legislation and the new practices and regulations that appear every day. They are knowledgeable about the exchange and fiscal issues, as well as the norms of other countries to give complete advice on a topic that is inherently intricate. Good handling of confidentiality, as well as excellent transparency in the relationship with the client. Totally reliable’.
‘What makes RB unique is the direct and personalised attention of one of the best tax attorneys in Colombia and the trust that their concepts generate for successful decision-making. Compared to other law firms, RB stands out for its real understanding of the needs of companies, and the technical and financial foundation to face the tax challenges that our company experiences with Colombia’s legislation’.
‘Before beginning any process, Rodriguez Bravo focuses on understanding the business model and the internal dynamics, which makes the legal advice and assessments much more accurate. The team is of a very high standard. They do not send junior attorneys to lead processes with clients’.
Corporación Punto Azul
- Provided tax advisory and tax planning to Scotiabank Colpatria regarding a product and transactions involving $50m in loans, annually; the advisory included creating a scheme to reduce the taxes generated by the loans when debtors are in default and a real estate asset is utilised to pay the loan.
- Undertook the tax planning for Proagro Mexico to permit the expansion of its local subsidiary to reach the entire Colombian market.
- Offered tax advisory to multinational technology group O4IT that renders services in Colombia and Florida.
CMS Rodríguez-Azuero renders comprehensive advice on all tax issues arising from business activity, offering permanent advice on tax and exchange matters as well as acting in litigation and disputes. Former Frontera Energy in-house lawyer Natalia Guerrero heads the area, which is recommended for its rigorous analysis and understanding of clients' business needs. Recent highlights saw the practice advise Khiron Colombia on the tax planning of its business expansion across Latin America.
‘The knowledge they have of business is what makes it unique, they are very rigorous in the investigation and understanding of what characterizes our business, which makes the advice very assertive. Additionally, it is of great value to us that the accompaniment is always supported by the partner, which shows the relevance they give to our affairs’.
Camara de Comercio Electrónico
Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional
CGR Doña Juana
Fideicomiso Plaza la Serrezuela
Constructora e Ingeniería Vila
- Represented Frontera Energy in several litigation cases against the national tax authority regarding the determination of income tax for 2015.
- Advised Khiron Colombia on the tax planning of its business expansion across Latin America.
With a broad service offering, Lloreda Camacho & Co. accompanies its clients from an array of sectors on all the tax implications of company operations. With particular strength in pharmaceuticals, the extractive industries, retail, telecommunications, media and entertainment, the team advises on tax planning, corporate tax, corporate reorganisations and international tax regulation, among other matters. In a 2019 highlight, the firm assisted Comcel on its merger with Telmex. Ignacio Santamaría, who also heads the public law and international trade practices, leads the five-strong team. Senior associate Julián Peña, who joined from Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría in October 2019 after David García left to become corporate tax manager at Geopark, is the other key name.
Cintra Infraestructura Colombia
Goodyear de Colombia
Oki Data Americas
Willis Towers Watson
Universal Music Colombia
- Advised Comcel on its merger with Telmex Colombia; the advisory included transfer analyisis of real estate, fixed assets, depreciation, inventories, intellectual property and brands among other aspects.
Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A.
Best known as a hydrocarbons-focused firm, the mid-sized Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A. has a 'one-stop shop' philosophy and advises its clients in connection with all legal matters related to tax, customs and foreign exchange obligations. The team's 2019 caseload was dominated by the provision of counsel on local taxation to energy-related companies delivering services to municipalities, including their representation in disputes before local and national tax authorities. Led by founding partners José Gabriel Fernández and Diana Sanclemente, both of whom have recognised track records in the hydrocarbons and mining industries, the team also includes two tax specialists: associates Catalina García and Manuel Niño.
- Permanent advsory to Weatherford Colombia on tax, customs and foreign exchange regarding the import of machinery and in relation to transactions among group companies abroad affecting the branch in Colombia.