APR. 5 3:35 P.M. ET Venezuela's tax collection agency plans to step up its
review of foreign oil companies' operations to determine why most of them are
claiming losses in their tax filings, the chief of the agency, known as Seniat,
Seniat officials will call for the "Week of Petroleum Evaluation"
starting Wednesday to review the companies with government operation agreements,
tax agency chief Jose Vielma Mora told reporters.
Only 10 percent of all 33 oil operation agreements in the oil-rich nation have
paid income taxes this year, Vielma Mora said.
The remainder have declared no gains or have claimed losses during the past
fiscal year, he said.
"We don't understand how Venezuela's state oil company has earned profits
and paid taxes, but private companies are declaring losses," said Vielma
Mora, referring to state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA.
Seniat officials, he said, will meet with representatives from Venezuela's
Oil Ministry this week to get a better sense of how much foreign oil companies
should be paying in taxes.
"During the last 10 years Seniat has ceased to collect at least $2 billion"
from various oil companies operating in the sector, Vielma Mora said.
However, he said he can't say for certain that companies are avoiding tax payments.
The move is part of an aggressive campaign by Seniat to avoid tax evasion in
The Seniat has managed to collect 8.08 trillion bolivars (US$3.75 billion)
during the first quarter of the year, almost 40 percent more than its goal,
according to Seniat figures.
Copyright 2005, by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.