(Business in Cameroon) - The Cameroonian government is working on strategies to collect customs taxes on goods purchased via e-commerce and Internet sales. The 2023 finance draft law, pending validation by MPs, stipulates that “goods acquired by electronic means and imported into Cameroon must be cleared per the customs regulations, regardless of the mode of delivery (mail, post, dropping at an address by a mailman or a broker).”
The document also suggests that customs officers work directly with e-commerce operators to do the clearance paperwork on behalf of third persons who buy goods through electronic means. This will be done “based on agreed modalities and including the modulation of taxes and duties payable according to standard practices for minutiae or misallocated taxes,” the draft law says.
The measure to collect customs taxes on goods bought via e-commerce aligns with the Cameroonian government’s tax base broadening policy. According to the Budget Guidelines Document (DOB), a preliminary to the budget bill, "the increasing dematerialization of economic transactions is causing the State to lose tax revenues in amounts that are difficult to estimate." The non-taxation of e-commerce operators further aggravates the situation to the detriment of regular businesses.
In response, the government has amended its legislation to allow for the effective collection of VAT on e-commerce transactions. Enacted through the 2020 Finance Act, the legislation amendment has been fully implemented since 2021. However, only a dozen electronic platforms are registered in Cameroon and fulfill their tax duties. "These include Facebook payments international limited (sales of online games); Facebook Ireland Limited (advertising); Facebook Technologies Limited (sales of digital content); Apple Inc (e-commerce platform); Google LLC (software sales); Google commerce (advertising and information); Netflix International (webcasting services); Booking.com (hotel reservations); Match.com (online dating)," the Directorate General of Taxes lists.
The Cameroonian government also planned to levy income tax (IT) on e-commerce companies in 2023, based on the inclusive framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Indeed, to meet the tax challenges posed by the digital economy, an international consensus has emerged for a minimum global taxation of 15% of the profits of multinational companies that carry out economic activities around the world without necessarily having a physical presence.
The implementation of this reform requires the signing of a multilateral convention that is still under negotiation. The entry into force of this measure is expected to generate a minimum annual yield of CFA20 billion.