Q COSTA RICA NEWS – The bill to improve the fight against tax fraud successfully passed the last stage of the legislative process on Monday, with the approval of 45 (of the 57) legislators.
The initiative now only requires the signature of the President and its publication in the official journal, La Gaceta, to take effect.
The aim of the legislation is to give the General Directorate of Taxation the tools to prosecute tax evaders. Among the measures to remove existing legal loopholes used to avoid paying taxes, the Ministry of Finance will be able to have access to the list of shareholders of corporations, and the people behind other legal entities.
The shareholders registry will be in the hands of the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR).
The bill will also allow the Ministry of Finance to request seizures of the assets of the defaulters and a precautionary measure, the freezing of assets of companies suspected of tax fraud.
The bill also obliges taxpayers to be up to date with tax payments before entering contracts or applying for permits, concessions or authorizations with any state institution; penalties for tax advisers engaged in illegal maneuvers to evade or reduce the amount to be paid by taxpayers; and strengthening of the processes of judicial collection. Businesses providing services to the public accept payments via credit or debit cards.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Finance said that revenue lost to evasion and avoidance of the general sales tax and income tax in 2013 (the latest year for which data is available) amounted to about 8.2 percent of GDP, mainly due to general sales tax non compliance. The measures included in the bill are expected to increase revenue by 0.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Helio Fallas, the Minister of Finance and the country’s First Vice-President thanked the legislators who approved the bill, describing the action as a significant advance in the country in terms of transparency and the fight against tax evasion. “The Tax Fraud project is one of the key projects in the fiscal reform which seeks to eliminate loopholes that currently exist to evade IRS,” said Fallas.
Among the opponents to the bill were Otto Guevara, Natalia Díaz, José Alberto Alfaro, Carlos Hernández and Ligia Fallas.