Jan. 17 is deadline for another round of paying luxury tax

This is the month when the so-called luxury tax is due on dwellings.

A home minus the property on which it stand worth more than $197,000 is subject to the tax. Technically they are homes valued at 100 million colons or more.

Tributación Directa, despite threats to the contrary, is having trouble collecting the tax, which is supposed to be used for building homes for the poor. In the previous year, only about a third of what was anticipated came in.

The tax collecting agency was going to send out squads to check on properties, but nothing has been heard of this plan for months.

The techniques involved in determining value are complex and unique to Costa Rica. Consequently many persons living in luxury homes have reported that their home did not fall into the taxable category.

Theoretically Tributacion can assess a fine of 10 times the tax. But lawmakers are not happy with this idea and there is a movement afoot in the legislature to reduce drastically the fines.

This year the tax is due Monday. The deadline usually is Jan. 15, but that day is a Saturday this year.

There are a number of exemptions to the tax. For example, persons living in dwellings certified as being historic by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud do not have to pay the tax. Religious structures are exempt, too. In fact there are 10 broad categories of dwellings that are not subject to the tax.

Full details are available in Spanish on the Tributación Web site.

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