How is the computation of deadlines carried out in the customs administrative procedure in Nicaragua?

By: Jean Paul Aguirre

Tax administrative procedures are regulated by different legal norms, depending on the type of tax and the competent administrative authority. In this sense, national, municipal and customs taxes are regulated by different laws and under the supervision of their own competent authority. On this occasion we will be dealing with the customs administrative procedure, specifically, the way in which the deadlines are calculated in the various stages of the procedure. It is important to know the applicable legislation for the computation of time periods in administrative proceedings, since the form of computation varies depending on the type of process (customs, tax or municipal).

Regarding customs administrative procedures, the correct application of the procedural rules for the computation of the deadlines is of vital importance for any taxpayer, since these deadlines are of peremptory nature, that is to say, the taxpayer will no longer be able to comply with the authority’s request or will not be able to make use of the remedies contemplated for the defense of his rights, since these actions would be declared untimely. In other words, the incorrect computation of deadlines may cause the non-compliance of information requirements in the context of an audit and even the loss of the right to appeal to a higher authority; situations that may lead to adjustments on customs taxes and penalties of up to 100% of the omitted tax.

The administrative procedures derived from customs duties are mainly regulated by the following legal norms: 1) Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua; 2) Central American Uniform Customs Code (CAUCA); and 3) Regulations of the Central American Uniform Customs Code (RECAUCA). The aforementioned legal norms determine the different deadlines to be complied with by the taxpayer, which may be in days or hours.

Notwithstanding the above, such legal norms are limited to establish that the deadlines shall be computed in business days and hours, however, they do not conceptualize which days shall be considered business days. In order to fill this legislative gap, it is necessary to apply in a supplementary manner Articles 3 and 134 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Nicaragua, through which it is established that all days of the year will be considered working days, except Sundays and those that by law are declared non-business days (e.g. holidays authorized by law, etc.). Consequently, when computing deadlines in a customs procedure, Mondays to Saturdays must be included, except for those days declared by law as non-business days.

The constant updating and correct implementation of the legal norms in force will allow companies to considerably minimize tax contingencies in the processing of administrative proceedings before the customs authority, and consequently, guarantee the defense of their rights through the challenge mechanisms contemplated in the Nicaraguan legislation within the deadlines established by law.