SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's Congress may extend the deadline for Brazilians to join a government program that grants them amnesty if they pay fines and taxes on billions of dollars in undeclared assets abroad.
The speaker of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia, said Tuesday that the deadline for joining the program could be extended to Nov 16 from Oct. 31. The program is a key part of the government's drive to meet its fiscal target this year and mollify governors who are demanding more federal funds.
It is illegal for Brazilians not to declare assets they hold abroad to the Brazilian tax agency.
Many other countries from Mexico to Argentina have launched similar programs to raise revenues to make up for a drop in commodity prices that curbed exports.
The amended so-called repatriation bill is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday in the lower house. If approved, the bill would go to the Senate for a vote most likely the week of Oct. 17, Maia said.
Brazil's repatriation program grants criminal amnesty to Brazilians that pay fines and taxes on undeclared assets held abroad. Officials have said the government could collect between 8 billion reais ($2.5 billion) and 50 billion reais in fines and taxes.
That extra cash is key for the government to meet a primary budget deficit goal of 163.9 billion reais this year.
The new bill alters the rules governing the period used as the basis to levy the fines and taxes related to the undeclared assets. The government will use the balance of non-declared assets at Oct. 31, 2014 to calculate the penalties.
($1 = 3.2556 reais)
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)