Lawmakers consider bill to protect beach concession holders

Lawmakers are trying to create some protection for individuals and companies holding concessions in the maritime zone.

Alan Flores, the minister of Turismo, was at the legislature Monday to testify on the bill.

The proposed legislation would require the government to tax concessions based on the value of the land and not based on the value of the concession.

Many beach dwellers have been hit with high assessments and high taxes because concession values have skyrocketed. That can happen when a major hotel or other tourism use comes into the area and purchases an existing concession.

The summary for the legislation, No. 18180, said that some commercial concession holders have faced taxes that were disproportionate.

Occupants do not really own concessions, so they do not pay the prevailing property tax.

The summary said that some occupants have been faced with demands for payment that were 300 percent of the previous amount. In some cases, the amount demanded was 2,000 percent, the summary said.

Municipalities, which collect the payments, are having
increasing trouble with collections, the summary said.

The proposed law said that the concession holder who is engaged in agriculture or is using the property for a residence would pay a quarter percent of the value of the land each year. Commercial users, such as hotels, would pay a half percent a year.

Those who are behind in the payments would have a chance to pay up under the new rates, but they would be subject to a 100 percent fine, said the text of the bill.

Adonay Enriquez Guevara, a lawmaker in the Partido Movimiento Libertario, proposed the measure in July. The bill now is being considered by the Comisión Permanente Especial de Turismo. The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo has a role in awarding concessions in the maritime zone.

Flores supported the measure when he appeared Monday. One goal of the legislation is to protect small businesses in the coastal areas.

The maritime zone is the first 200 meters above mean high tide. The first 50 meters is in the public domain except for special uses like marinas and the like. The remaining 150 meters can be award in a concession that may last from five to 20 years.

Under terms of the bill, the value of the land will be that determined by the Dirección General de Tributación in the area.

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