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Brazil's government launches debt renegotiation program for tax disputes

The Brazilian government announced on Tuesday a debt renegotiation program for debtors owing it 150 billion reais ($29.9 billion) in legal disputes and controversies over tax payments.

The program will grant a discount of up to 50% over the principal amount, apart from fine, interest and other charges. Payments will be made in installments over five years. The deadline for renegotiation will be July 29.

The Economy Ministry did not project how the move could increase tax revenues in the short term nor the amount of tax it will waive, noting that it is impossible to make this estimate because adhesion to the program by taxpayers is voluntary.

To be entitled to the benefits, taxpayers must confess they are debtors and give up further questioning of disputed amounts.

"Sometimes a reasonable agreement is better than winning or losing everything," said Moises Pereira, general coordinator of tax administrative litigation, who added that the program is based on a new attitude of conciliation.

($1 = 5.0190 reais)

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres and Bernardo Caram, Editing by William Maclean)

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