The Ministry of Finance (Hacienda) wants to stimulate the use of plastic instead of cash for better collection of sales and income tax
The Ministry of Finance (Hacienda) wants to stimulate the use of plastic instead of cash for better collection of sales and income tax

(QCOSTARICA) The Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda) plans to return one percentage point of sales tax to people using their plastic for purchases.

The plan, if adopted, would mean consumers using plastic would effectively pay a 12% sales tax instead of 13%.

The deputy minister of Finance, Fernando Rodriguez, explained that the incentive does not apply only to debit cards, but that the Ministry of Finance will not apply it to credit cards. In the words of the Minister, “we don’t want to encourage borrowing”. Rodriguez added that credit card issuers already offer their customers incetinves for using plastic instead of cash.

When will the discount be applied? Rodriguez said discussions are ongoing with the banks (issuers of debit cards) to see if they can return the percentage at the point of sale.

“The idea is that from the tax they retain (the sales tax at the point of sale) they can separate the rebate and credit the consumer at once. We have to discuss that with them or at best a month later, but the idea is that people see the return of the money immediately,” said Rodriguez.

The Anti Tax Fraud bill (Ley para Mejorar la Lucha contra el Fraude Fiscal) that authorizes Hacienda to rebate the sales tax was approved in first legislative debate on September 9. It is currently in consultation with the Constitutional Court.

In addition to the rebate, the bill also requires businesses and professionals (ie lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc) to accept, as an alternative payment, credit and debit cards.

The measure is aimed at improving the collection of taxes on sales and income, discouraging cash transactions that cannot be tracked by the tax department.

This year, started in January, the state bank Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), allowed non-residents of Costa Rica once again to open a personal bank account (with a monthly deposit limit of US$1,000) and obtain a debit card.

The Banco Nacional (BNCR), Bancredito and the Grupo Mutual earlier this month have begun to also apply simplified banking. See our report The “New” Banking In Costa Rica.

It is expected that more banks will do so, returning Costa Rica’s banking system to a time where there were no restrictions on foreigners opening and operating a local bank account without the requirements of a Costa Rican cedula (national) or DIDI or DIMEX (foreign residency).

Source La Nacion