For every law, lawyers tell us, there are at least a couple of loopholes. Such is the case of “no-tell motels” whose customers use the rooms for sexual trysts (which La Nacion refers to delicately as “intimate encounters”) and are thumbing their noses at the tax. Lawmakers are scrambling to close the loophole.


Related: Sin: If You Can’t Beat’em

The tax on motel rooms is 30% and the motel owners are declaring that they are charging a mere 770 colones per customer. As our Brit friends say, “Not very ruddy likely!” This means that the tax, which goes to social welfare, is a meager 230 colones per customer.

no-tell-motel-dvdThe fact is that the social welfare agency IMAS is getting much less from the law than they did a decade ago, despite inflation. At that time, the room charge was 4,600 colones with the tax passing on to IMAS 1,383 colones. But the the purpose of the new tax law was to give IMAS more money.

The fact is that owners of sleazy motels charge their customers anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 colones. But, supposedly, the extra cost above 770 are all “extra services.” (Yeah. Sure)

Alexandra Castillo, chief of collections for the welfare agency, would like to stop the tax evasion with a new law currently brought before congress by the good services of National Liberation Party lawmaker Annie Saborio.

Castillo says the 770 figure is laughable — it covers such goods and services was bed, bedding, use of other furniture, bath, towels, water, electricity, radio, TV, car parking, jacuzzis, sauna and similar basics that often go with a recreational sexual encounter.

Since the tax on food and beverages is less, the receipt often reads 1,000 colones for the room and 19,000 for food and bar. Moreover, many customers simply are not registered at all.

But motel owner and president of a national association representing a dozen motels Mauricio Gonzalez calls the tax “abusive and confiscatory.” Gonzalez excused the law breaking as mere different “strategies” of billing and repeated to La Nacion his charge that the law was unjust.

Some motels have just declared zero earnings per month and IMAS has gone after them in court. Currently, three suits are in the courts against hotels for evasion. But offenders are not always hotels. Some so-called “night clubs” (a local name for strip joints) entertain customers on sight. There are also massage parlors and such.

Comment: The tax of 30% does seem steep, but their track record shows that sleazy motels and hotels will refuse to pay the tax anyway. What do they have to fear, losing their good reputation?

Meanwhile, the poor get the shaft again…

Article by