The "SAT" contribution was created by Law no. 8,212/91 with the scope of funding the social assistance related to events such as illnesses, permanent injury and death resulted from labor accidents.

In summary, Law no. 8,212/1991 sets forth SAT tax rates of 1%, 2% or 3%, depending on the risk degree of the main activity of the legal entity (the risk degree is classified as low, medium or high).

Since the creation of SAT, the Government has emitted Decrees to state what kind of activity deserves to pay 1%, 2% or 3% and the last Decree related to it was emitted in 2009 (Decree 6957), stating new rates for the Brazilian Companies.

Successive regulations regarding Law no. 8,212/1991 did not determine a specific concept to the expression "main activity of the legal entity", in view of that many decrees were issued over the time with different interpretation about the concept of "main activity of a legal entity.

Currently, the regulation related to Law no. 8,212/1991, which is in force, is the Decree 3,048/1999 (Social Security Regulation) with subsequent changes, that says: "... The main activity of the legal entity is that one which has the highest number of employees... ".

Thus, the tax authorities currently understand the main activity of the company is the one performed by the highest number of employees. Also, it is important to mention that, according to the tax authorities, the company must use the same rate to all branches.

However, the most important thing related to it is, in 2008, STJ held a decision that became a precedent stating that the Companies must consider, for SAT purposes, the main activity (the one performed by highest number of employees) in each branch and not use same rate to all branches.

In 2011, the Attorney General of the National Treasury (PGFN) issued a Declaratory Act no. 11/20011 which states that, considering this new status brought by the case law, the companies are able to define their rates according to the main activity in each branch, avoiding the risk of an assessment by the Federal Revenue Inspection.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.