Ecuador > Leading tax law firms

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  1. Ecuador – Leading tax law firms
  2. Ecuador - TDH500
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Ecuador - TDH500

  1. 1
    • Diego Almeida Guzmán - Almeida Guzmán & Asociados
    • Xavier Ribadeneira Espinosa - RP&C Abogados

Established in 1981, Almeida Guzmán & Asociados has a broad service offering but persistently remains best known for its profound capability in all aspects of tax work, where it is undoubtedly a leading force. The department, led by practice head and senior partner Diego Almeida Guzmán, is adept in both contentious and non-contentious tax matters, from the preparation and revision of tax declarations, to tax strategy, tax-efficient planning and structuring, and both administrative and judicial contentious tax matters. Juan Sebastian Loaiza, Elsa María Carrillo Andrade and Sebastián Saa-Tamayo are additional names to note. The firm provides ongoing day-to-day tax advice to clients such as Consorcio PetroSud, PetroRiva and Sanofi Aventis, and also drafted a study on the country’s tax regime in relation to the petroleum industry on behalf of the Secretaria de Hidrocarburos so as to improve the current oil-services contract framework. Other clients include Avianca, Edesa, Corporation Quiport and AMA Seguros España.

Bustamante & Bustamantehas real weight in the tax sector’ and ‘always remains up-to-date regarding the development of tax legislation’. Led by Juan Carlos Bustamante, the six-strong practice is adept at assisting on transactional and compliance-related tax matters, non-corporate tax issues and tax litigation as well as on double taxation treaties. The group’s client base covers all industries, but, reflecting the reality of the national economy, has a strong emphasis on the oil-and-gas sector where it has advised a number of high-profile clients on issues including reference prices, income tax deductions in the industry, the refutation of tax collection orders, and matters concerning the SRI’s assessment rights under article 17 of the tax code. Agustín Hurtado is the team’s key figure as regards tax related to the hydrocarbons sector, but has also diversified his practice towards other industry sectors, principally retail; he typically handles issues related to IRS income and VAT tax assessments. Misael Ruiz is also recommended; a former regional legal head at the SRI, Ecuador’s tax authority, he has in-depth knowledge of the latest reforms concerning advance payments on income tax. Other work includes analysis of the tax implications of transactional activity, tax claims, the tax aspects of corporate restructuring, and the development and implementation of efficient tax structures. Associates Maria Fernanda Saa and Juan Carlos Peñafiel are also noted.

Ferrere Ecuadorhas definitely shaken up the market’ since opening its doors 18 months ago and in the tax sector, where it fields an eight-strong team, it offers full-service capability, including transactional tax matters, consultancy, planning and reorganizations, as well as day-to-day advice. The team also offer transfer pricing (in conjunction with a consulting firm) and customs regulatory consulting. Current head of the International Fiscal Association’s Ecuadorian chapter, practice-group head Paola Gachet, has strong expertise in transactional tax matters, reorganisations and infrastructure project-related tax matters in particular, and is also knowledgeable about international taxation and transfer pricing. Office manging partner and ‘multifaceted practitioner’ Javier Robalino is also a key contact for transactional tax advice. Further strength comes from senior associate Bolívar Figueroa, a former regional legal head at the SRI, he specialises in tax structuring and planning. Recent mandates include advising French state-owned entity In Continu et Services on all tax implications of establishing a local branch. Other matters include tax analysis, administrative oppositions and tax litigation in the hydrocarbons sector, tax planning (and associated double-taxation matters), tax-efficient financial structures; tax strategy in regard to corporate investments; and on the customs side, import duty analysis and tax litigation against the customs authority. Clients include Cargill, Schlumberger, Colgate-Palmolive, 3M, Amerisur, Cementera Petrolera de Venezuela CPVEN and Banco Internacional.

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce’s multidisciplinary tax unit combines accountancy and finance capability in conjunction with its tax offering to permit fully comprehensive service provision. It handles tax and financial planning, tax outsourcing, administrative and judicial tax proceedings, transfer pricing, wealth planning and customs matters, as well as tax advisory and auditing. Previously at the international department of the SRI, practice head Juan Gabriel Reyes is a leading figure for tax planning and structuring, tax implications and contingencies, and administrative and judicial tax claims. Formerly at PwC and head of the financial tax practice, CPA María Rosa Guerra has approaching 30 years’ experience and typically focuses on due diligence, tax-planning, risk mitigation, the financial aspects of tax litigation and SRI review processes. A strong and specialised second line also includes senior associates Carmen Simone and Esteban Bueno, who focus on tax and administrative matters, and Juan Francisco Carrasco, who focuses on corporate tax and tax legal advisory. Recent matters saw Reyes and Simone represent Banco del Pichincha in objection proceedings against a $70m SRI income-tax assessment for the years 2001-2013, resulting in a negotiated settlement of $27m; and present an administrative claim on behalf of Repsol in opposition to a $50m tax determination, achieving its reduction to $19.5m. In conjunction with Carrasco, Reyes also undertook similar matters on behalf of Otecel (Telefónica). Carrasco also successfully led advice to Pardalis Services regarding the deductibility of interest paid on credits granted by a related company, overturning an SRI tax assessment. Other matters include advisory on dividend distribution and tax burden optimization; investment protection agreement negotiations, advisory on changes in the calculation of Excise tax, and the assisting of numerous clients with their participation in the 2015 tax amnesty process. The practice, which has recently strengthened its customs and foreign trade capabilities, also handled the overturning of incorrectly levied customs fines. Clients include ADELCA, Amcor Rigid Plastics, Arca, Hewlett-Packard, Philip Morris International and UBESA.

Gonzalez Peñaherrera & Asociados is considered a ‘highly professional, internationally-oriented firm’ with ‘very service-minded’ partners. With a corporate background and over 15 years’ tax specialization, practice head Paola Robalino is ‘undoubtedly very capable’; her four-strong group typically handles corporate tax assessments, tax and legal due diligence, representation in administrative and judicial tax procedures, tax auditing, tax planning, and transactional and contractual tax matters. Reflecting the firm’s core strength, the oil-and-gas sector is a key focus and particular area of specialization: recent matters include advising the Ecuadorian subsidiaries of both YPF and Sinopec International with regard to amendments to the tax law, and leading – via the country’s 2nd Tax Discussion Forum – negotiations with the tax authorities that resulted in a further amendment, ameliorating the impact of the earlier reforms. Other matters include advice regarding tax determinations on behalf of Sinohydro Corporation; tax advisory to Petrobras in relation to its arbitration with the Ecuadorian state regarding the expropriation of its Block 18 oil contract; and a tax relief request on behalf of Pacifpetrol. Other matters include a successful extraordinary administrative appeal on behalf of Gotel Telecom, and terminating tax litigation for Petrobell under the auspices of the 2015 tax amnesty.

The Ecuadorian branch of international consultancy Moore Stephens Profile Consultores, is uniquely positioned in the Ecuadorian market given the ancillary services it can offer. The tax practice advises on corporate and personal tax compliance, planning, consultancy and structuring; trust and estate-planning; administrative and judicial representation; and social security and remuneration planning, among other matters. The practice houses considerable expertise, principally tax practice director Jorge David Uribe who – formerly at Deloitte & Touche and in house at Grupo Financiero Popular – focuses on banking, fiduciary and fiscal consultancy; and former Arthur Andersen Legal and Tax manager Mauricio Durango Pérez (he was also in house at several major Ecuadorian financial institutions), who focuses on tax advisory consulting. Past clients include Banco Pichincha, Nestlé Ecuador, GM Ecuador, Cervecería Nacional and Otecel. Senior associate Alvaro Felipe Cardenas, whose practice centres on international taxation, is also noted.

The Guayauil-based TLA Tax & Legal Advisors is a ‘top flight’ tax and corporate boutique that advises across the entire tax sector, including planning, consultancy, international taxation, asset protection structures, transactional tax matters and tax litigation. Founding partner Gustavo Ortega has a broad tax practice that ‘covers all the bases’; and key support comes from senior associate Ricardo Flores; formerly at Garrigues for six years, he has considerable knowledge of both tax and corporate issues. Recent mandates include advising OHL on the tax effects of entering in to public contracts with the Ecuadorian government; Thadeus Mailing Holding on the sale of its interests in several Ecuadorian subsidiaries, including all tax aspects); and advising the wealth and tax planning department of Bank Julius Baer. Other matters include advisory services to Wong Group and Transfuel Group, as well as advising a financial institution on the local financial framework and the local tax effects of bond and promissory note issues; advising shareholders on the acquisition of a stake while minimising negative tax effects; and advice on group restructuring. Former senior associate Marco Ottati left to enter the public sector as a public notary in Guayaquil.

Coronel & Pérez’s tax and customs practice complements the firm’s strong corporate and commercial service offering, and is a recognised participant in Ecuador’s tax law market. Clients find that the department stands out in terms of ‘professionalism, experience and industry knowledge’. Led by Xiomara Castro, the practice is well versed in both advisory and litigious matters and particularly active on the tax transactional side. Past clients include OCP del Ecuador, among others.

Fabara & Compañía’s small but capable team is ‘very good’ according to clients who highlight the ‘immediate attention’ from ‘highly qualified and competent staff’; it advises on all areas of tax law including domestic taxation, corporate tax planning and litigation and customs consultancy. The practice has also established a notable record in obtaining tax refunds. With over 18 years’ experience in both the public and private sectors, practice head Diego Francisco Pino is a former head of legal at Ecuador’s Inland Revenue Service (SRI). Recent matters include advising Abbott Laboratories on a tax dispute with the national customs service (SENAE) regarding the tax classification of medications; DirecTV on successful opposition to illegitimately levied municipal taxes; the filing of an administrative claim seeking repayment of withholding taxes on behalf of logistics client Tabacarcen; and an administrative proceeding regarding denied VAT claims that has come to centre on the issue of overpayment. Other matters include transfer pricing adjustments and significant customs related work involving guarantees of due process for tax payers. Key support comes from Yael Fierro, who’s experience includes working at Quito’s tax court.

RP&C Abogados’ strategic alliance with international law firms such as BKP Rechtsanwälte, as well as its participation in Deloitte’s network, are just part of its appeal to global players in the mining, oil-and-gas, telecommunications and consumer-products industries. The firm has local offices in both Quito and Guayaquil, and the practice, led by the very highly regarded Xavier Ribadeneira Espinosa, is well versed in tax planning, preventative tax reviews, legal strategies and representation in administrative and contentious matters, consultancy, tax due diligence and day-to-day tax matters. Other key figures include head of legal Manuel Cartagena and Luis Ponce, a partner in the legal and tax consulting area.

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