Lawmakers quietly approve new tax on corporations

Before they broke for a Christmas vacation, legislators approved a new tax on corporations, President Laura Chinchilla plans a formal ceremony this morning to sign the measure. The event will be complete with the signing of the national anthem, flags and talks by top security minister officials.

The exact text of the measure was not available, but the law will be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper after Ms. Chinchilla signs it.

Although attributed to Ms. Chinchilla’s administration, the bill came to lawmakers in 2006 during the Óscar Arias administration.

The new tax covers all sorts of business entities, such as sociedades anónimas and sociedad de responsabilidad limitada. The $300 corporate tax is expected to raise about $30 million for the ministry’s police school. All money raised goes to the ministry.

There was discussion at the legislature, according to the minutes of the session. Some lawmakers objected to assessing the same tax on a corporation that holds no assets as the bill does on a giant company.

The proposed taxes do not identify or tax a show ofspecific wealth and does not depend on income or earnings, noted an opponent, Carlos Góngora Fuentes of the Movimiento Libertario. That party later announced all of its lawmakers had voted against the bill. The final vote was 37 to 14.

Those in favor of the bill, mainly members of the Partido Liberación Nacional spoke at length and quoted from books by party founder José Figueres Ferrer, who favored taxing the wealth for the benefit of the poor.

The measure was No. 16.306, and it was approved on first reading in April.

The measure then went thorough Sala IV constitutional court review before the final vote.

Much of the session included discussion of taxes related more to the pending tax act that is being reviewed by magistrates.

Still unknown is when the tax must be paid. One version of the bill said it would go into effect 10 days after signing. Another version says three months. Owners of inactive corporations will pay just half of the tax.

Many expats hold their homes and vehicles in corporations. If the tax is not paid, the operators of the corporations will not be able to do official business, according to the bill.

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