Over 7,000 Brazilian politicians in debt to federal government

. Jan 28, 2020
Debt politicians Photo: StudioStoks/Shutterstock

Records of overdue federal tax debt show that 7,186 elected Brazilian politicians elected—across all spheres (federal, district, state and municipal)—jointly owe more than BRL 1.1 billion to the public treasury.

This analysis of information on elected politicians, individual taxpayer IDs, and federal tax liabilities was only made possible by publication of data from the General Counsel for the Federal Treasury (PGFN) for the first time in an open format in November 2019. Previously, only a limited volume of records could be consulted simultaneously. With the opening up of this data, broad and comprehensive cross-referencing was made possible.

</p> <p>News of these debts held by politicians is significant, as <a href="">these are the elected officials who set legislation on debt repayment and austerity measures</a>, meaning they could be seen as interested parties in the forgiveness of debts owed to the federal government.</p> <p>The list of overdue federal tax liabilities includes debts of any amount to the government, be it taxes, fees or fines. If these debts are not paid, federal agencies request they be included on the list of overdue liabilities. According to PGFN data, there are over 5.6 million records on the list of federal debts, adding up to BRL 3.6 trillion owed. Many of these records, however, are being contested in court, and as such it is difficult to know precisely how much is owed.</p> <p>The median value of the politicians&#8217; debt is BRL 10,768. As there is a very large distance between the minimum and maximum liabilities—spanning from BRL 35.00 to 142 million—the median is the best way to understand the data set as a whole, as a simple average would be distorted, coming in at around BRL 153,200.</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/1294547"></div><script src=""></script> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/1294644"></div><script src=""></script> <h2>Behind the data</h2> <p>Some interesting observations can be made from this data when we analyze by state. Politicians in Brazil&#8217;s most popular state of São Paulo, for instance, have the largest number of federal liabilities, but it is the representatives from Bahia and Ceará who actually owe the most.</p> <p>These three states are distant from the rest of the country, causing a general comparison of all Brazil&#8217;s 27 states to appear somewhat distorted in the graph below. Note that a graph without them makes the points much more comparable.</p> <p>Something similar happens when we look at each party. The center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB)—which has recently been defined by its leaders as &#8220;liberal&#8221;—is by some distance the party with the highest amount of registered debts.</p> <p>When not taking the PSDB into account, the distribution among parties is more concentrated, with the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) party, Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), and Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) leading the way.</p> <h2>Companies as well as individuals</h2> <p>The debt doesn&#8217;t stop there either, as companies linked to 2,452 elected Brazilian politicians—where these public officials are partners, managers, CEOs or board members—jointly have BRL 2.8 billion in debts with the federal government.</p> <p>In total, 2,885 distinct companies were identified, considering that politicians can be linked to more than one corporation.</p> <p>There are a total of 2,627,524 companies with debts on the list of overdue federal tax liabilities, adding up to a total of BRL 2.48 trillion. So, the amount owed by politicians is very small in relation to the total. However, their median debt is higher than the rest of the debtors: BRL 25,993 compared to BRL 18,540. The average term of politicians&#8217; debt is also relatively shorter: 6.8 years, compared to 7.9 years for the total population of debtors.</p> <p>When analyzing by state, Piauí is the state of with the most debt from elected politicians. This is largely due to the series of liabilities with the state sanitation company, Agepisa, as its chairman is an elected councilor from the Workers&#8217; Party.</p> <p>The information of elected politicians was obtained through the cepespR library, compiled by the Center for Studies in Public Sector Policy and Economics of Fundação Getulio Vargas, which organizes and publishes data from the Superior Electoral Court.</p> <p>The results of the cross-referencing of information from the PGFN and politicians can be checked on Núcleo&#8217;s database page, both aggregated by politicians and debt by debt. The data can be accessed in full at this link, where you can also apply filters and see more details.</p> <p>Taxpayer IDs and names of politicians elected in 2018, 2016 and 2014 were cross-referenced with the IDs of federal debtors, published by the PGFN.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p style="text-align:center"><strong><em>This article was originally published by <a href=";utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=Revue%20newsletter">Núcleo Jornalismo</a></em></strong>

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Renata Hirota

Renata Hirota is a Brazilian reporter.

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