Mexico has enacted a new law governing how time zones will be treated throughout the country. On October 28, 2022, the Decree issuing the Time Zone Law in the United Mexican States (the "Law") was published in the Official Journal of the Federation. The new Law became effective October 30, 2022 and, with it, the previous Law of the Time System in the United Mexican States was repealed, as was the Decree establishing the seasonal time schedule applied in the United Mexican States.
This new Law is mandatory throughout Mexico and acknowledges the application and validity of four different time zones within Mexican territory, as well as the hours that correspond according to their location.
For the purposes of the Law, the following time zones and their corresponding meridians were established: (1) Central Zone, corresponding to the meridian 90 degrees West of Greenwich and comprising most of the Mexican territory; (2) Pacific Zone, referring to the meridian 105 degrees West of Greenwich and comprising the states of Baja California Sur, Nayarit (except for the municipality of Bahía de Banderas, which corresponds to the Central Zone), Sinaloa, and Sonora; (3) Northwest Zone, referring to the meridian 120 degrees West of Greenwich and comprising the state of Baja California; (4) Southeast Zone, referring to the meridian 75 degrees West of Greenwich and comprising the state of Quintana Roo; and (5) the islands, reefs and keys are included within the meridian to which their geographical location corresponds and in accordance with accepted international legal treaties and agreements.
The Law provides that in Mexico a standard time schedule is established according to the zones described in the prior paragraph, and that a seasonal time schedule will apply only to certain states and municipalities of the Northern border in accordance with the following rules: (a) for the border municipalities of Coahuila (also including the municipalities of Allende, Morelos and Villa Unión), Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, the meridian 75 degrees West of Greenwich will be applied; and (b) for the state of Baja California, the meridian 105 degrees West of Greenwich will be applied. Said border seasonal time schedule will take effect from 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and will end at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November.
Likewise, the Law specifies certain mechanisms so that a state, through its legislature, may request to modify the time zones or seasonal time schedules in the state or its municipalities by sending an initiative to the federal Congress for its consideration and voting, subject to the opinion of the Ministry of the Interior. In this case, upon a proposal by the majority of the state legislature or the Governor of the respective state, forums and/or citizen consultations will be held to understand the public’s opinion on the matter.
This new Law represents a challenge for the border areas in the North of the country, especially with respect to the application of seasonal time schedules, since during their application these areas will be subject to a different time schedule with respect to states or municipalities with which they have historically shared the same time schedule. This issue is especially relevant for border municipalities in Sonora and Chihuahua, since the Law does not contemplate a seasonal time schedule for them, unlike the rest of the municipalities along the Northern border of Mexico.
On the other hand, there is some concern about the possible negative effects that the elimination of the summer time schedule could have after 26 years being of applied in Mexico,, including for example, increases in the consumption of electrical energy, logistical confusion, or increases in crime during night hours. It is hoped that Mexican legislators have duly studied and considered these concerns.
As of January 1, 2022, the State of Nuevo Leon established environmental or green taxes, which companies with operations in Nuevo León must pay when they file a monthly statement of emissions and/or polluting discharges. The applicable legislation establishes specific parameters and the obligation to pay said taxes in cases where the companies exceed certain parameters.
Now, regardless of whether a company exceeds the parameters established by law, a monthly statement must be filed, as is the case with Mexican federal taxes or local payroll taxes. Therefore, depending on the activity, companies may be required to register, file statements, measurements and/or estimates based on which, if applicable, green or environmental taxes will be calculated and paid.
Recently, Nuevo Leon´s Finance and Treasury Department has started processing reviews of taxpayers registered in the state’s Taxpayers Registry who, in the monthly tax statements they filed, reflected zero Water Polluting Emissions Tax to be due (the “Environmental Water Tax”).
The authority is seeking to have taxpayers clarify and justify their statements; hence, taxpayers are asked to provide documentary support corresponding to their monthly tax statements with respect to the Environmental Water Tax, such as laboratory certifications, reports, discharge measurement results, as well as their discharge permit and discharge log.
The authority is requiring such information to validate the taxpayers’ returns and, if applicable, make corrected tax determinations as to their respective surcharge and fine.
It is prudent for companies to review in advance their compliance with this new tax and a assess whether it is necessary to file any voluntary amendments.
It is probable that government authorities will continue to initiate audit processes in the next few weeks and may also focus on taxes applicable to Air Pollution Emissions and on the Subsoil and Surface Polluting Emissions taxes. It is important to consider that taxpayers self-determine these taxes with their own estimates or measurements. Accordingly, it is important to review compliance on these measurements, and any other estimates used to file monthly statements for such tax purposes.
CCN is available to assist with a review of compliance with these requirements and recommend any available legal options.
On April 20, 2022, the Mexican Congress passed an amendment to the Mining Law, providing that lithium will now be considered as owned by the Mexican government and that the rights to such substance may no longer be the subject of concessions, contracts, or administrative acts for the benefit of private parties. For this reason, it was determined that the exploration, exploitation, benefit, and use of lithium would correspond exclusively to the Mexican State, through the decentralized public entity to be created for this purpose.
To comply with the foregoing, on August 23rd, the President of the Republic published a Decree creating the decentralized public entity named Litio para México (Lithium for Mexico, in English) (the “Decree”). Said entity must begin its functions no later than January 30, 2023.
The specific purposes of Litio para México include the exploration, exploitation, benefit, and use of lithium which is located within the national territory, as well as the administration and control of the economic value chains of said mineral. The foregoing will be coordinated by the Deputy Department of Planning and Energy Transition of the Department of Energy.
The principal powers of this public entity are as follows:
- Develop and execute engineering projects, research, geological activities, and all those in connection with the purpose of the organization.
- Research and develop the technology required in the lithium industry.
- Locate and designate the geological areas in which there are probable lithium reserves, as well as to generate basic geological information on lithium located within Mexican territory.
- Promote sustainable use of lithium for the energy transition, for the benefit of the population in general.
- Manage and control the necessary activities for the production, transformation and distribution of lithium derivative products, for which it may associate with other public and private institutions.
In relation to this last activity, the possibility of the participation of the private sector seems to be left open. José María Lujambio, partner and director of the energy practice at CCN, was quoted in an article in the newspaper El País commenting on the matter, where he considered that the Decree is ambiguous, given that the words “company” or “organizations” are not mentioned, but only “public and private institutions”.
CCN will follow up on the implementation of the Decree and will publish further updates on this topic as such become available.