So you woke up today with a headache from too much Tuesday night football, and as you looked groggily into the mirror you realized that Costa Rican income tax is due today.
And there were all your papers on your desk, in the box in the closet, in the kitchen under the corn flakes, in the dresser drawer. On the floor under the beer dispenser.
All is not lost. In Costa Rica a taxpayer can file a form with zeros and spend a month or two figuring out the tax. Professional help is suggested. If not an accountant, a shrink will do.
The D-101 form needed to file is available at the following financial institutions:
Banco Popular y de Desarrollo Comunal, Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago, Banco de Costa Rica, Banco BAC San José, Banco HSBC, Banco Citibank, Banco Lafise, Banco BCT, Banco Cuscatlán, Banco Cathay, Banca Promérica, Banco Scotiabank, Coopealianza R.L., Financiera Acobo, Grupo Mutual Alajuela-La Vivienda, Financiera Comeca and Coocique R.L.
Note that Banco National does not bother to carry them, nor will that state bank accept your filled-out form. The Dirección General de Tributación sells the form for 120 colons. The amount is deductible next year. There is a model form available online as an example, but the tax collector will not accept it
Most expats do not file personal income but rather corporation income taxes. The form can be filled out standing in the bank line if the plan is to fill the relevant spaces with zeros. A late filing incurs a $50 fine plus interest, but that is a cheap price for peace of mind. The penalty for not filing is steeper.
For most, the tax year ended Sept. 30. So the time to file without penalty is two months and 15 days. In other words, today. However, some firms may be on a different fiscal year.
Many Costa Ricans do not earn enough to pay an income tax, so most of those in the bank line trying to file the form today will be messengers from companies. Try to find a bank line where you are not behind a motorcycle messenger with 50 forms. Some banks have special lines for those who have no taxes to pay. A form filled with zeros rates such a line.
Don’t forget to keep a copy of your quickie form because you will need the number when you fill out the real tax return.
An alternate plan would be to fill out a form via the elaboración digital de declaraciones de impuestos, an online service that is free, but it appears that the form,
once printed out has to be carried to the bank, too. Tributación online services only work with certain PCs and certain operating systems.
Others who do not have to file a tax return are young tourists working illegally at sportsbooks, old tourists working illegally in the real estate business, ladies on the night shift in Jacó and anyone else who is not on the Caja, on a payroll or on the grid.
However slow, Tributación will catch up with those who have received a substantial sum as a contract employee or through a company, even if the payment is not consistent with immigration laws. Most firms filled out a form due Nov. 30 that lists contract payments for services that totaled more than 50,000 colons in the tax year.
So the tax collector may already know how much you earned. The entire Costa Rican system is based on reporting the other guy and collecting invoices or factures as proof of payment. And the facturas have to be of the type blessed by Tributación.
Hurry! You still have time. Most banks close at 3 p.m.