El Salvador Tech Industry: No Taxes on Software, Hardware, and AI Development

Due to a significant decrease in crime, a rise in tourism, and investments in education– El Salvador entered this year in a strong financial position, this means that El Salvador tech industry is also in a strong position.

Its GDP is projected to grow by 2.4 percent in 2023 driven by the tourism sector, public investment, and the government’s digital transformation policies.   

The government continues to make efforts to attract foreign investment and has taken measures to streamline bureaucracy and improve security conditions. 

In late March, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele announced on Twitter that:

“Next week, I’ll be sending a bill to congress to eliminate all taxes (income, property, capital gains, and import tariffs) on technology innovations, such as software programming, coding, apps, and AI development, as well as computing and communications hardware manufacturing.”

In this piece, we will analyze why the government is lifting taxes on the El Salvador tech industry and what this means for the market and business formation in El Salvador

"El salvador government incentives in tech" infographic by Biz Latin Hub for an article on "El salvador tech industry".
The El Salvador tech industry has seen slow growth, prompting government intervention for industry incentives. The bill is proposed to reduce or eliminate taxes for the investments above.

Why did the President remove taxes on the El Salvador tech industry? 

On Friday, March 31, President Nayim Bukele introduced a bill into congress to remove tax on the El Salvador tech industry. 

This bold move by its popular leader is fueled by the President’s belief in making the Central American country a cryptocurrency hub. In September 2021, El Salvador became the first country in the world to establish Bitcoin as a legal tender. 

The bill adds to a broader effort to modernize the economy of the country and decrease its dependence on traditional sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.

Local technology companies have supported this latest move by the President believing that it will lead to the expansion of the El Salvador tech industry. It is hoped that this step will help a new wave of foreign investment in the country.

Mayer Mizrachi, an entrepreneur who established a marketplace called Geeky Drop in Panama that enables users to buy or sell gaming and technology products rapidly and securely, posted on social media that he would redirect his expansion efforts from Costa Rica to El Salvador if the proposed legislation is enacted.

Given that El Salvador is dollarized, this incentive will likely put it at the forefront of technology in Latin America […] If this bill is passed, I will expand Geeky Drop to El Salvador and cancel plans to go to Costa Rica,” he said. 

(his tweet is HERE)

Many other technology business leaders stated they were now interested in setting up or moving their companies to El Salvador. 

Which global companies work in the industry?

Worldwide credit card giant Visa plans to invest more than $270 million over the next five years in the digital infrastructure in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. While Mastercard has stated its plans to support one million small businesses in the region. 

Microsoft continues to work on expanding broadband access to the people in El Salvador. It currently has a 71 percent internet penetration rate

El Salvador has become a popular destination for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO.) It offers competitive pricing and little regulation alongside tax-free opportunities. 

Global customer support companies including OfficePartners360, Pronto BPO, and Worldwide Call Centers all have large operations in El Salvador. 

Which local companies lead the El Salvador tech industry?

The El Salvador tech industry continues to grow and the new tax-free policy should only boost this in the years to come. Let’s take a look at some of the leading tech companies in El Salvador. 

SPOT specializes in developing AI and ML-powered corporate solutions. Their mission is to lead the innovation of AI to drive the future of retail around the world. In 2019, they were named on Forbes’s Top 30 Promising Companies in Latin America. 

ATSGroup is a software development company based in San Salvador. They develop mobile apps, chatbots, and websites and provide IT services. Their platforms are contained in green servers, without waste; every aspect is built to be energy efficient, contributing to the reduction of its carbon footprint.

Ravn is another leading software company in the El Salvador tech industry. They have a team of experienced digital architects, technical designers, software developers, and project managers. Ravn has worked with well-known brands such as Google, Sephora, BestBuy, and Skullcandy. 

The ideal time to invest in the El Salvador tech industry 

El Salvador’s government continues to invest in and support the tech sector. It started in 2020 with the Digital Agenda 2020-2030 and President Bukele´s latest tax-free bill progresses this plan. 

The Central American nation offers excellent nearshoring opportunities with its proximity to North America and growing skilled labor pool. 

It places El Salvador at the forefront of locations for foreign tech companies to invest in. As one tech entrepreneur said… “It’s a no-brainer.” 

"top investment aspects in el salvador" infographic by Biz Latin Hub for an article on "el salvador tech industry".
If you are interested in investing within the El Salvador tech industry, there are various opportunities and challenges that come with it. In this graphic, some of the top investment aspects that must be considered, are shown.

Biz Latin Hub can help you and your business

At Biz Latin Hub, we provide a range of market entry and back-office services in El Salvador and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Our broad coverage enables us to assist with business investment in the El Salvador tech industry. 

We specialize in hiring and PEO, accounting and taxation, company incorporation, and corporate legal advice.

Our offices are located in major cities across the region. In addition, we have established partnerships in numerous other markets, providing our clients with an extensive network of resources.

Please contact our expert team to explore how we can support your business operations across El Salvador and beyond.

The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
Craig Dempsey

Craig Dempsey

Craig is a seasoned business professional in Latin America. He is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of the Biz Latin Hub Group that specializes in the provision market entry and back office services. Craig holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, with honors and a Master's Degree in Project Management from the University of New South Wales. Craig is also an active board member on the Australian Colombian Business Council, and likewise also active with the Australian Latin American Business Council.

Craig is also a military veteran, having served in the Australian military on numerous overseas missions and also a former mining executive with experience in various overseas jurisdictions, including, Canada, Australia, Peru and Colombia.

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