Mexico tax on Netflix, Spotify and rivals could raise $185 million: senator

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican sales tax on foreign digital businesses providing audio or visual services could generate tax revenue of about 3.6 billion pesos ($185 million) a year, a senior lawmaker in Mexico's ruling party said on Tuesday.

The finance ministry said Monday it is in talks to levy the charge on foreign online businesses, and the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has sent a bill to Congress to legislate for the tax.

"If we approve the initiative, the Mexican state could obtain around 3.6 billion pesos a year," Ricardo Monreal, Senate leader of MORENA, told a news conference.

"I'm not talking about Uber, I'm not talking about Airbnb," Monreal added. "I'm only talking about the audiovisuals. Essentially, Netflix, Apple, Spotify ... Amazon Prime and another, there are four or five."

Mexico has pursued new sources of revenue to help plug an income gap after changes in the way national oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) contributes to state coffers.

Late last year, Spotify said Mexico City had more users of its service than any other city.

Mexico's overall tax take is the lowest in the 36-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2017, it stood at 16.2% as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), less than half the OECD average.

($1 = 19.4885 Mexican pesos)

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Stephen Coates)