QCOSTARICA – A ruling by the Constitutional Court (Sala Constitucional) has declared the tax on corporations (“impuesto a sociedades” in Spanish) illegal.

But, despite its unconstitutionality, the tax on corporations for 2015 fiscal year, which ends of on January 31, must be paid.

Starting from 2016 the tax no longer applies.

From a statement issued by the Constitutional Court:

By Vote No. 2015-1241, the Constitutional Chamber, by a majority declared as unconstitutional fundamental articles of the Law on Taxes on Corporations No. 9024 of December 23, 2011.

The unconstitutionality derives from violation of basic principle of constitutional rule of law committed by the Legislature during the processing of the bill, since a draft was published and then through a replacement which was never published, key tax issues were amended relating to taxable persons (obligated) and of the rate, also in the replacement text, which was never published, sanctions not mentioned in the original bill were introduced.

The Constitutional Court has indicated that the principle of disclosure is in effect, with particular intensity in the case of the tax, through which obligations or economic burdens are imposed on citizens.

According to the Registro Nacional, 87.3%  or 473.636 of the 542.600 regirested corporations (sociedades anominas) have not paid their 2015 taxes.

Despite the voiding of the tax, Article 5 of the National Registry says that corporations in arrears must pay the tax and all penalties and late fees to be able to obtain certifications of legal status (personería jurídica) or any other document.

Alan Saborío, expert on commercial tax law at the law firm Deloitte, told La Nacion, that taxpayers could ask the Constitutional Court for a clarification on the issue.

For his part, the Deputy Minister of Finance Fernando Rodriguez, considers it is up to the National Register, for its role as manager of the tax, is in charge of explaining its interpretation of the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

For fiscal year 2015, which expires on Saturday, the tax rate is ¢ 201,700 annually for active and ¢100,850 for inactive companies. Given the last day of the month is a Saturday and the Registro is not open on Saturday, the deadline is Monday, February 2, 2015.

The tax for 2015 is ¢201.700 for active corporations and ¢100.850 for inactive, which can be paid online, at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) branches. The amounts are based on the average base salary.

The tax collection is/was intended for the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública (MSP), which receives 95% of the amount and the remaining 5% to the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz. According to MSP figures, the amount received from the tax represents 15% of its total budget, about ¢37.5 billion colones.

The law, “Ley de Impuesto a las Personas Jurídicas” was created by the Chinchilla administration (2010-2014) in 2011, and published in La Gaceta on December 27, 2011.

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