Firms To Watch: Tax

The new Ecuadorian branch of the global firm, Dentons Paz Horowitz advises on a range of contentious and non-contentious tax matters, with particular expertise in the tax aspects of investments.
Falconi Puig Abogados launched its tax practice with the arrival of senior associate Jorge David Uribe, who heads the new department, from Andersen Tax & Legal in April 2020.
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Tax in Ecuador

Lexvalor Abogados

Lexvalor Abogados is particularly renowned for its work in the pharmaceutical, technology, tourism and financial sectors, with a client base that includes some of the country's most notable companies as well as substantial international players. The firm is frequently instructed to defend clients in tax disputes, frequently appearing opposite the Ecuadorian Internal Revenue Service (SRI), municipal governments and the customs administration. On the non-contentious side, the firm advises on transfer pricing, tax and inheritance planning for family offices, compliance and investment agreements. Carlos Coronel Endara heads the tax team and oversees all tax litigation, while María Gabriela Uquillas Iturralde heads the customs department. Other key team members include Pablo Arias Aizaga and senior associate Víctor Chiriboga Granja.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Coronel Endara; María Gabriela Uquillas

Testimonials

‘A very strong and dedicated team. They cover all the different areas of tax law and provide best possible advice.’

‘The lawyers are very professional, honest and lawyer. They are masters of this field of law and deliver timely and realistic advice. They are persistent in seeking solutions to problems.’

‘In our experience, one of the most important characteristics of the Lexvalor tax group is the ability to advise on international transactions and operations. This is not very easy to achieve in other offices in Ecuador.’

‘Carlos Coronel is an outstanding tax lawyer. He is fully up to date on Ecuadorian tax policy, which allows him to provide an excellent service to foreign investors. This is what makes the great difference with his competitors.’

‘LexValor is an efficient law firm that always keeps its clients duly informed of the main issues in the sector.’

‘An excellent team – they are honest, capable and empathetic.’

‘The team are very able and work very quickly.’

‘Excellent knowledge and availability to clients.’

Key clients

Uber

Hapag-Lloyd

Productos Familia Sancela Del Ecuador

Primax Comercial del Ecuador (Grupo Romero)

Avon Ecuador

Corporación Favorita

DF Ecuador (Dufry)

Cervecería Nacional

Superdeporte (Marathon Sports)

Banco Internacional

Grupo Futuro/Empresa Turística Internacional (Etica)

Grupo KFC

Casabaca (Toyota)

Work highlights

  • Represented Productos Avon Ecuador in a dispute regarding transfer pricing.
  • Advised Corporación Favorita on the tax aspects of obtaining an investment of more than $130,000.
  • Advised Cervecería Nacional (Anheuser-Busch InBev) regarding the application of the special tax on consumption of sugary drinks.

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce

Juan Gabriel Reyes leads the tax department at Pérez Bustamante & Ponce, and is highly recommended for tax planning and structuring matters, as well as transfer pricing matters, such as his recent advice to Levapan concerning transactions with its sister companies in Colombia and Panama. The firm remains one of the most notable players in the Ecuadorian tax space, with a client list that includes a substantial number of prominent multinationals such as Netflix, Sony Inter-American and Inchcape. Carmen Simone-Lasso is another key figure in the practice, focusing on customs and international trade, particularly in an investment context, while Juan Francisco Carrasco focuses on corporate tax, as well as representing clients before the tax authority.

Practice head(s):

Juan Gabriel Reyes

Testimonials

‘Prompt and concise advice.’

‘Juan Gabriel Reyes provides exceptional client service. His advice is always timely and very thorough. Additionally, his knowledge of the industry is unmatched. I highly recommend working with him.’

‘A highly analytical and reliable team with an excellent reputation in the Ecuadorian market.’

‘Efficient and very professional. They understand clients. Their advice is very precise, and they are clear when explaining alternatives and results.’

‘The PBP team includes lawyers with extensive experience in different areas of law, which allows them to analyse problems from a variety of perspectives and think up comprehensive solutions that take into account all the potential implications. The team’s comprehensive way of analysing matters and its openness to exploring new alternatives that will reduce the risks to the client set them apart from other firms.’

‘Juan Francisco Carrasco’s experience in representing clients before the tax authority is key since he anticipates the decisions that the tax authority could make, which allows him to improve the strategy to obtain the expected results.’

‘The PBP tax team have vast knowledge and experience in this area of law. They are up to date on legislative changes and provide us with top-quality advice.’

‘The lawyers at the firm have the highest levels of knowledge and professionalism. On the personal side, they stand out for their people skills, kindness and vocation for client service, assisting with any request on our part. Their approach is very friendly and as a result we have maintained our professional relationship for many years and will continue to be so in the future. Juan Francisco Carrasco and Juan Gabriel Reyes are outstanding.’

Key clients

Levapan

Otecel (Telefonica subsidiary)

San Miguel Industrias Ecuador (Sanmindec)

Holtz Automotive

Visa International Servicio de Pago España

Inchcape

Sony Inter-American

Liberty Seguros

Netflix

Work highlights

  • Acting for Visa International Servicio de Pago España in seeking the refund of income tax in Ecuador on the basis of the Double Taxation Treaty between Ecuador and Spain.
  • Advised Otecel (a subsidiary of Telefonica) on a VAT assessment by the tax authority.
  • Acted for Liberty Seguros in a challenge to the tax authority’s decision that capital outflow tax should have been levied on the values subject to compensation between the company and reinsurance companies abroad.

Robalino

Following its departure from the Ferrere international network and establishment as an independent firm, Robalino Law continues to handle complex tax planning matters for both international and domestic clients. Paola Gachet heads the team, and is highly experienced in a range of work including transfer pricing, interactions with the tax authorities, and cross-border taxation. The team frequently works alongside the firm's large corporate department, with members such as Gachet and Javier Robalino Orellana focusing heavily on the tax aspects of large, cross-border M&A and investment transactions. Key names from the firm's associate ranks include Bolívar Figueroa, who is recommended for tax planning, as well as contentious work, and Victor Murillo, who focuses on matters which overlap with international trade and customs.

Testimonials

Efficient and competent. Good availability.’

‘The team are well prepared and competitive.’

‘They work well with other teams in the firm.’

‘It is a very high-level tax practice, covering all taxes in Ecuador. The outstanding technical knowledge and practical implementation of the regulations are highly valued qualities.’

‘The advantage is the team’s technical knowledge of international taxation and its relationship with domestic taxation. They have a great ability to understand financial structures and respond accordingly from all applicable tax angles, taking into account both legal and practical considerations.’

‘The team shows commitment and provides a personalised service to each of its clients, providing comprehensive solutions and always thinking out of the box.’

‘Paola Gachet is an excellent lawyer. Her good client service, empathetic approach, and quick responses when time is a scarce resource, as well as her local expertise, mean that as clients we trust in the firm 100%.’

Key clients

Schlumberger

Pluspetrol

Generali

La Fabril

Cargill

Corporación GFP (Fybeca)

Continental Tire

Eurofish

Cargolux Airlines

LATAM Airlines

Work highlights

  • Advised Semaica on the tax aspects of the reorganisation of its corporate group.
  • Advised Cisneros Interactive (the exclusive distributor of Facebook in Ecuador) on the process of returning taxes for foreign payments to Facebook US.
  • Acted for Attenza del Ecuador in a case concerning the powers of the tax authority to impose fees on a company despite a resolution by the Secretary of the Andean Community questioning the validity of the tax.

Almeida Guzmán & Asociados

Almeida Guzmán & Asociados is home to a tax practice which counts a range of high-profile domestic and international companies among its clients, advising on tax planning, inspections and audits, tax lawsuits and transaction-related tax issues. Diego Almeida-Guzmán heads the team, which also includes Juan Sebastián Loaiza and Elsa María Carrillo.

Practice head(s):

Diego Almeida-Guzman

Bustamante Fabara

Bustamante & Bustamante is particularly active in the field of tax structuring and tax planning, acting for a range of clients including high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and large domestic and international companies. Advising on international tax issues such as double taxation treaties, customs regimes and transfer pricing is another key part of the firm’s practice. Veteran practitioner Juan Carlos Bustamante heads the team and handles a range of tax disputes in addition to his non-contentious practice. María Fernanda Saá-Jaramillo, who handles a wide range of international work, and compliance expert Lorena Ortiz are key figures from the associate ranks. Since publication, the firm has announced its merger with fellow local firm Fabara & Compañía to become Bustamante Fabara, effective as of November 2021.

Practice head(s):

Juan Carlos Bustamente

Testimonials

‘María Fernanda Saá-Jaramillo and her team are excellent. They provide a personal service and give us support in all the areas of law that we require.’

CorralRosales

Andrea Moya heads the tax department at CorralRosales and specialises in advising international companies doing business in Ecuador, as well as Ecuadorian businesses looking to expand internationally. The firm also has notable expertise in customs matters, including audits, assessments and contentious work involving the customs authority. Xavier Rosales is a key name for clients seeking tax advice in relation to corporate transactions, while senior associate Ricardo Mancheno frequently represents clients in administrative and judicial proceedings before the authorities.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Moya

Testimonials

‘Andrea Moya provides clear advice on tax matters and she regularly follows up on pending procedures.’

‘They know this field of law well.’

‘Andrea Moya knows tax law perfectly and has helped us develop new strategies.’

‘The team has good knowledge of Ecuadorian tax law and its agreements with other countries. They provide personalised advice that is essential to supporting our decisions. It has an advantage over other firms that have more people in their teams but do not offer a personal service.’

‘I work closely with Andrea Moya. She has in-depth knowledge of tax issues, is very analytical and has a lot of local and regional experience.’

‘They are prompt and efficient in their responses.’

‘The team are warm and friendly to deal with and diligent in their advice.’

‘Andrea Moya is very efficient and comes up with excellent and clear advice. She is truly an expert in her field.’

Key clients

Payless ShoeSource

UPS

Copa Airlines

Ferrero

Terpel

Location World

La Industria Harinera (Santa Lucía)

Nestlé

Matallana (Dispapeles)

Raúl Coka Barriga

Münich Re

Hannover Re

Pollux

Dipac Manta

Egis International

Work highlights

  • Advised UPS on challenging a tax assessment issued by the Ecuadorian Internal Revenue Service regarding freight forwarding services provided by the client in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  • Advising Payless ShoeSource on a challenge to the tax assessments for 2009, 2010 and 2011 initiated by the customs authority.
  • Advised Münich Re on initiating several reimbursement requests with the tax authority.

ECIJA GPA

ECIJA GPA (formerly Gonzalez Peñaherrera & Asociados, before joining the ECIJA network in 2020) houses a tax department with strong experience in the oil and mining, telecoms, construction and service sectors, alongside an expanding digital services practice. Litigation is a key facet of the firm's practice, with several recent cases involving successful challenges to assessments carried out by the SRI. Paola Robalino and Édgar Méndez head the team, while Christian Rosero is another key figure, focusing on compliance and internal policies, as well as the tax implications of outsourcing.

Practice head(s):

Paola Robalino; Edgar Mendez

Testimonials

‘The lawyers know how our industry works so they can provide the advice our company requires.’

‘Paola Robalino and the other members of the team have experience, status and knowledge.’

‘The team are very agile and efficient. Their client service is excellent.’

‘Edgar Mendez provides prompt and clear advice, and a personal service.’

Key clients

Sinohydro Corporation

Hydrochina Corporation

Unacem

Pampa Energía

Wayraenergy

Directv Ecuador

BAS Corporation

Banco Procredit

Baker Hughes

Aggreko & Consorcio Aggreko Santos CMI

Work highlights

  • Successfully acted for Sinohydro Corporation in two claims against the SRI.
  • Successfully acted for Hydrochina Corporation in a case against the SRI challenging a tax assessment.
  • Acting for Directv Ecuador in claims against several municipalities regarding the imposition of municipal asset taxes on the use of public air space.

Fabara & Compañía

Fabara & Compañía handles a range of tax work, including advice on customs issues, tax planning, litigation and dispute resolution, and tax refund procedures. Tariff proceedings are a frequent source of work for the team, which recently obtained a reclassification of several pharmaceutical products that had previously been treated as food for tariff purposes. Practice co-head María Rosa Fabara Vera is a key contact at the partner level, and is particularly experienced in matters which involve the real estate sector, while fellow co-head and senior associate Diego Pino Roditti brings significant government-side experience to the department, having previously served as the head of the legal department of the SRI. Since publication, the firm has announced a tie-up with fellow local heavyweight, Bustamante & Bustamante, becoming Bustamante Fabara as of November 2021.

Practice head(s):

María Rosa Fabara Vera; Diego Pino Roditti

Testimonials

‘Fabara Abogados have extensive knowledge in tax matters and have always provided us with efficient and timely advice, with a 100% success rate.’

‘Teamwork, efficient communication, and extensive knowledge of corporate and tax issues.’

‘Diego Pino is a very good lawyer and provides a personal service.’

‘The Fabara tax team is highly recognised at the local level. The analyses they carry out are very thorough, considering all the possible angles of a particular case.’

Key clients

Azzorti Venta Directa

Empresas Carozzi

Leche Gloria

Sanfer-Bussie

Icesa

Supermercado de Computadoras

Nihon Kenko del Ecuador

Monster Energy Bebidas Ecuador

Work highlights

  • Acted for Abbott Laboratories in challenging the Ecuadorian customs authority’s decision to determine that certain pharmaceutical products from various importers should be classified as food for tariff purposes.
  • Acted for Aspenpharma in a dispute with the tax authority over the undue payment of income tax in 2016.
  • Acted for Aon Risk Services Ecuador in a case seeking the return of undue payment of tax on dividends distributed to shareholders.

Noboa, Peña & Torres, Abogados

Patricio Peña Romero leads the tax team at Noboa, Peña & Torres, Abogados, which advises on the design and implementation of efficient tax structures for new businesses, as well as handling transfer pricing and the tax aspects of M&A and other corporate transactions. The firm also represents clients in disputes, where experienced litigator Gonzalo Noboa Baquerizo is a name to note. Andrés Cortez is the practice's key associate, with a practice that spans the full breadth of the firm's work, including complex transactions and litigation cases.

Practice head(s):

Patricio Peña Romero

Testimonials

‘They are a multidisciplinary team with experience in the private and public sectors, which allows them to create comprehensive solutions.’

‘A high level of professional ethics and transparency.’

Apolo Abogados

Guayaquil based-firm Apolo Abogados is particularly active in the field of aquaculture, and frequently advises clients in this space on their applications for tax exemptions, as well as representing clients in litigation and administrative disputes. The maritime and port sector is another key focus of the firm's practice, with recent work including advising on the claiming of undue tax payments, investment contracts and multi-jurisdictional restructurings. Carlos Arosemena heads the team, and is particularly experienced in the design and submission of regulatory proposals to the tax authority.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Arosemena

Testimonials

‘A multidisciplinary team that works cohesively in search of providing good and efficient support to the client. Apolo undoubtedly stands out in the Ecuadorian market for its excellent connections and relationships with the authorities.’

‘The team is very professional and knowledgeable about port and customs matters.’

‘They have a lot of experience and good contacts to help achieve our objectives.’

‘Carlos Arosemena did an excellent job.’

‘Apolo’s team is made up of top-level attorneys. What we most value about them is that they are a full-service firm, and they meet all our requirements.’

‘They have a team of lawyers specialised in this area of business. They are very serious and dedicated to meeting the needs of the company.’

Key clients

Industrial del Sur (Indusur)

Grupo Papelero (Grupasa)

Salcedo Motors (Salmotorsa)

Hidroalto (Grupo Wright)

Thomas More (TMSA)

Naturisa

Hapag Lloyd Ecuador

Promarisco

Flanders Dredging Corporation

Oceanbat

Work highlights

  • Advised Naturisa on the tax elements of an investment contract for investments in different phases of the production process.
  • Obtained an exemption from income tax for eight years from the Strategic Committee for the Promotion and Attraction of Investments on behalf of Hapag Lloyd Ecuador.
  • Advised Vitapro (Nicovita), GISIS (Skretting) and Biomar (Alimentsa) in relation to the foreign exchange outflow tax imposed on transfers abroad.

Coronel & Pérez

Coronel & Pérez is recommended for estate planning and tax consulting work. Hernán Pérez Loose heads the team alongside Boanerges Rodríguez Freire, with the former focusing on private client work, while the latter maintains a strong corporate following.

Practice head(s):

Hernan Perez Loose; Boanerges Rodriguez Freire

Heka Law Firm

Heka Law Firm houses a tax department which advises both local and international clients, including family offices as well as corporate clients, on a range of issues including tax planning, litigation, transfer pricing and double taxation issues. The taxation aspects of M&A and other corporate transactions are a key facet of the practice, with practice head Ramiro Jacome bringing his substantial corporate law experience to bear in such matters. The team saw a notable arrival in 2020, with Jose Manuel Albornoz joining from Pérez Bustamante & Ponce in June.

Practice head(s):

Ramiro Jacome

Key clients

Edesa

Icesa

Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Factorpro

Domum-Cons

Great Group

Paymovil

Proyectos Unidos Empresariales (Prounem)

Work highlights

  • Advised Proyectos Unidos Empresariales (Prounem) on the tax structuring aspects of a $2.5m logistics project.
  • Advised Paymovil on negotiations with the Ecuadorian tax authority and the financial authority over a regulation to allow for the operation of payment facilitators.

Meythaler & Zambrano Abogados

Meythaler & Zambrano Abogados is particularly active in the contentious tax space, handling cases before the SRI, the Constitutional Court and the customs authorities. Tariff claims are one of the firm's key competencies, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector, with a range of high-profile clients instructing the firm to challenge tariff classifications for a range of products. José Meythaler leads the team, and is highly experienced in a range of contentious work. Gabriel Pinto is also highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jose Meythaler

Testimonials

‘MZ provided real support in dealing with tax litigation for our company. We have close relationships with the lawyers.’

‘Jose Meythaler and Gabriel Pinto are closely involved in their cases.’