Colombia

Colombia’s national currency is the peso (COP). For 2020, the average exchange rate was COP 3 737.29 to USD 1. That same year, the average worker in Colombia earned COP 16 033 240.

Taxes allowances and tax thresholds for the personal income tax system and upper earnings limits for social security contributions are expressed in SMLMV and UVT units. These indicators take into account the inflation rate. At December 31 of 2020, the following currency values applied to these units are:

Each family member declares and pays taxes separately.

  • Relief for social security contributions: Employee’s compulsory social insurance contributions are non-taxable or excluded income for income tax purposes regardless of whether they are paid to government or private sector (See section 2.1 below).

  • 25% of total employment payments, up to a monthly maximum exemption of 240 UVT (annual limit of COP 102 548 160). Pursuant to the 2012 tax reform act, in determining the 25% exempt income, the taxpayer must take into account its employment income, less the amount of excluded items, allowed deductions, and other exempt items of income.

  • Dependent deduction, up to a limit that cannot exceed 10% of the employees’ monthly income, nor the equivalent to 32 UVT (annual limit of COP 13 673 088).

  • Voluntary contributions to pension funds and deposits in the so-called “AFC” bank accounts1, made on behalf of employees by their employers up to a limit that cannot exceed 30% of the employees’ annual income (taking into account the mandatory payments to the general system on pensions), nor the equivalent to 3 800 UVT (COP 135 307 000). According to tax code, non-compulsory employee´s contributions to voluntary pension funds are considered exempted items.

  • The Act 1607 of 2012 (tax reform) allows taxpayers to deduct of their taxable income each one of the next items:

  • Interest paid within a year for mortgage loans, with a monthly limit of 100 UVT (annual limit of COP 42 728 000).

  • Payments made for voluntary health insurance that cover to the employee, spouse and two children or dependent people, up to a monthly limit of 16 UVT (annual limit of COP 6 837 000).

Because Law 1943 of 2018 was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court at October 2019, at the end of that year the Congress approved the Law 2010, which kept the income tax regime to individuals in the same way as it was established in the previous tax reform. This tax regime split the individual’s income in three “baskets”: a general basket, that covers labor, capital and non-labor income; a pension basket, and a dividends basket.

The income received by employees is reported in the general “basket”. The taxable income assessed under this basket is the result of summing all earnings realized during the taxable year, minus: (a) all excluded items (refunds, reductions, discounts, and earnings not considered taxable items of income), (b) all allowed deductions (costs, expenses, and other deductions), and (c) all exempt items.

This system keeps the top introduced by Law 1819 of 2016 but now in the general basket, in which the sum of allowed deductions and exempt items should be lower than COP 179 459 280 (5 040 UVT) or 40% of the taxable income (earnings minus excluded items). However, the legislation allows the recognition of costs and expenses related with capital and non-labor income that comply with the requirements for their use into the assessment of the taxable base.

Regarding on the income tax rate, individuals must sum the taxable income that comes from the general basket and the one comes from the pension basket. The income tax rate that applies to this final amount is as provided in the table below:

No taxes apply to income at state or local government level.

The social security system in Colombia comprises three regimes: the general system on pensions (“sistema general de pensiones”), the general social security system on healthcare (“sistema general de seguridad social en salud”), and the general system on employment risks (“sistema general de riesgos laborales”). The first two operate within the government sector.

The general social security system on healthcare, is financed by public and private funds. The private funds belong essentially to the resources of contributions- contributive regime, which are paid by employers and employees, as well as independent workers, retired persons, and copayments of affiliates at the time of receiving healthcare services. The tax reform of 2016 eliminates the Pro Equity Income Tax – CREE, that had a specific destination for healthcare and was another source of resources2. However, 9 points of the CIT rate will have a specific destination that replaced both two payroll contributions and the portion of the mandatory contribution made by the employer to the healthcare system, regarding on their employees whose individual earnings up to 10 SMLMV. For the rest of the companies, and for all of the employees, the total contributions are 12.5% of the monthly wage, of which 8.5% ispaid by employers on behalf of their employees whose monthly earnings above 10 SMLMV and 4% by employees. In the case of independent workers, the contribution is also 12.5% but the contribution base is 40% of the monthly income. Those contributions are accounted as a NTCP since more than 50% goes to private sector.

The Colombian pension system is a hybrid of two different systems, a defined-contribution and fully-funded pension system and a pay-as-you-go system. The contribution rate is mandatory and the same for both systems. The contributions are 16% of the monthly wage, which are paid 12% by employers and 4% by employees. When the monthly wage is over 4 SMMLV the employee pays an additional rate that goes from 1% up to 2% to Solidarity Fund. Workers can choose between both systems and can switch every 5 years until 10 years before mandatory retirement age. Those contributions are accounted as a NTCP since more than 50% goes to private sector.

The minimum and maximum base for compulsory contributions is 1 and 25 SMLMV (COP 877 803 and COP 21 945 075) respectively. Voluntary contributions can be made to the general system on pensions, and individuals are free to make contributions to a public or to a private pension fund of their choice.

  • For pensions, 4.0% of the employee’s monthly earnings, plus a certain percentage between 1.0% and 2.0% of the amount over 4 SMLMV (over COP 3 511 212). The last is named “contributions to the Solidarity Fund”.

  • For health, 4.0% of the employee’s monthly earnings.

  • After the Act 1819 of 2016, both, the employee’s contributions to pensions and health are included in the model as non-taxable income for income tax in the Colombian legislation.

  • For pensions, 12.0% of the employee’s monthly earnings.

  • For health, 8.5% of the employee’s monthly earnings if individual earnings above 10 SMLMV. Otherwise, 0% of the employee’s monthly earnings.

  • Payments for employment risks are mandatory only in respect of employment and are the sole responsibility of the employer; the rate of this contribution ranges between 0.348% and 8.7%, depending on the activity. A representative rate of 0.522% is used in the Taxing Wages calculations.

None.

The “Family Subsidy” is paid on a monthly basis to an employee that works monthly at least 96 hours and receives monthly employment payments that don’t excess COP 3 511 212 (4 SMLMV). It is assessed on both principal and spouse when they are working at the same time and one of the requirements to receive this subsidy is that the sum of their gross earnings does not exceed COP 5 266 818 (6 SMLMV). The definition of dependents includes children, stepchildren, orphaned brothers and sisters, and parents over 60 years old, all of them economically dependent on the worker.

The amount of the payment is a constant value during the year; it does not have limit related with the number of beneficiaries and it differs between the regions of the country. The annual average Family Allowance or Subsidy to 2020 was COP 429 819 for one beneficiary.

Through Decree 558 of 2020, the Government reduced the pension contribution rate, from 16% to 3%, decreasing the payment of both employers and employees for the contributions in April and May 2020, but this Decree was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in July 2020. This decision means the full payment of the pension contribution at the normal rate for those months at a later time.

  • The source of information is The Great Integrated Household Survey conducted by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) with the intention of gathering information about employment conditions of people as well as about the general characteristics of the population. This nationwide survey is carried out on a monthly sample.

  • The average gross earnings were obtained by multiplying the average hourly wage by the average number of hours worked, according to the quarterly reports and expresses in a monthly frequency. It covers full time workers (taking into account a person who works 40 hours or more in her/his main job in a week).

2020 Parameter values

2020 Tax equations

The equations for the Colombian system are mostly on an individual basis. But the Family Allowance is assessed on both principal and spouse when they are working at the same time and the sum of their gross earnings doesn’t exceed the limit to receive this subsidy, and otherwise on the principal's earnings. This is shown by the Range indicator in the table below.

The functions which are used in the equations (Taper, MIN, Tax etc) are described in the technical note about tax equations. Variable names are defined in the table of parameters above, within the equations table, or are the standard variables “married” and “children”. A reference to a variable with the affix “_total” indicates the sum of the relevant variable values for the principal and spouse. And the affixes “_princ” and “_spouse” indicate the value for the principal and spouse, respectively. Equations for a single person are as shown for the principal, with “_spouse” values taken as 0.

Notes

← 1. The so-called “AFC” bank accounts (“cuentas de ahorro para el fomento a la construcción - AFC”) are savings bank accounts specially provided for the acquisition of real estate property, so the funds deposited in such accounts can only be used for the acquisition of the aforementioned property.

← 2. The 2012 tax reform act introduced this new tax to alleviate the costs of hiring formal labour incurred by private employers. These companies had to be taxpayers into the income tax in order to access to this benefit. In particular, both the companies inside the free trade zones regime and the non-profit entities had to follow with the contribution to the healthcare system, regardless of the earnings of their employees.

Mentions légales et droits

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© OCDE 2021

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