Taxes and Lawyers...exciting post today!

Trip Start Oct 01, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2008

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Where I stayed
Mercure Curitiba Golden Hotel

Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I've been going through purchase orders for the last few days in the office in Curitiba.  I'd noticed the the price paid was always way over the list price.  So I was wondering if our procurement guys were just really crappy at their jobs.  Or was noone noticing a transposition of numbers?  So I finally got an answer that the difference is the taxes.  Those are TAXES!?!?  Running the numbers...  Yeah, according to my calcs, we're paying a little over 31% in taxes for transportation!  And that's not for importing a part to Brazil.  Importing to Brazil has a 100% importation tariff.  Which is the reason that an imported Dodge Ram w/ a V6 costs over R$140,000 here! (=$85,000USD)  We are purchasing a part in Minas Gerais, and sending it to Bahia (state-to-state). Bahia doesn't have enough heavy industry to fabricate the parts we are purchasing so I don't know if taxes are less for intra-state purchases.  The taxes in Brazil are:
There's a few more but I can't remember what they were called.
I found out something useful and a little scary from a blog I'd read here  Apparently the U.S. Court of Appeals handed down a decision in April stating that laptops are the equivalent of normal luggage.  This means that they can be searched and confiscated by U.S. Customs just like anything you try to bring across the borders.  Now searching through the laptop and looking at files wouldn't be so bad (unless you're trying to sneak in child porn, like the guy in the case file) most of the time.  Just another inconvenience for travelers.  But if you're traveling with a company laptop, like me, with confidential company files, design drawings, etc, then what do you do if Customs wants to look through proprietary or confidential files?  I already keep everything backed up onto an external hard drive in case the laptop dies or goes missing so them taking the laptop won't be detrimental.  But I don't think the government should take confidential information with impunity.  The company lawyers in the US didn't have anything useful to add.  Just "contact us if this happens" and "don't keep material prohibited by company policies on laptops"(referring to the case file the decision was based on).  I was really hoping that they'd tell me to have the customs officer sign a non-disclosure agreement before allowing them to view certain files.
There's a new company lawyer that's temporarily at the desk near where I'm sitting in the Brazilian office.  I mentioned this to him and he said that in Brazil, the police and customs have to have a court order to look in a lawyer's laptop because it is considered an extension of his office.  He doesn't know about for everyone else.
Today is our last day in Curitiba.  Probably the last time in Curitiba for this trip to Brazil.  But we'll be back.  There's a lot of exploring left to do here.
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