TICO BULL – It’s funny (not in a humourous way) how my car as it gets older, its value never really goes down. I am talking about the ‘fiscal’ (tax) value, the value used to calculate the property tax, and no relation to ‘market’ value, the value to sell or buy.
For example, the tax value of my 1986 Mercedes for 2015 was ¢1,480,000 colones; for 2016 it dropped only ¢10,000, being taxed on the value of ¢1,470,000 colones.
So, as far as the tax man is concerned, in the last 12 months my Mercedes only lost ¢10,000 (US$19) in value.
The stories of many others, however, is that they vehicle’s tax value actually went up. Some on the social media show proof of increases in the hundreds of thousands of colones.
All this means, of course, that with a higher tax value and a tax increase, the Ministry of Revenue (Ministerio de Hacienda) is doing its part to collect more taxes from wherever it can. And what better way than to manipulate the tax value, while keeping down the tax rate below what is acceptable by the public.
Municipalities and other government institutions profit from the ‘Hacienda’ slight of hand, their share of the tax grab that is part of the “marchamo” (the annual vehicle circulation permit) is based on the tax value as well.
To be fair, although like most I don’t like to pay tax, I wouldn’t complain as much if the tax actually went to the fixing an infrastructure on “intensive care” and new roads to alleviate the daily congestion that is now a part of daily life in the greater metropolitan area, that includes the urban areas of San Jose, Alajuela and Heredia.
A drive from Santa Ana (west side) to Curridabat (east side) is a good 45 minutes if the wind blows the right way. During rush hour it takes me 45 minutes from downtown San Jose to Santa Ana. And that is if there are no fender benders or not raining. A major accident, I might as well book a hotel for the night. Exaggerating, but not so much.
Me, I am more and more opting for public transportation. For about ¢500 colones (less than a buck) I can board a bus – modern and comfortable – a few blocks from my house to downtown San Jose, in the area known as La Coca Cola; my trip back is the same way. So, for less than US$2 I can avoid the stress of traffic, the cost of parking (almost ¢1,000 per hour), the tolls at Escazu (¢310 each way) and gasoline, which I figure about ¢2,500.
The next step would be to sell the car. Not.