Not a lot of Costa Ricans favor the proposed value-added tax

The proposed tax plan is more of a mess to the people of Costa Rica than it is to legislators. The 17-point plan has been edited repeatedly within the past year, tossed around for the past few months and finally has gone into the legislative assembly for discussion.

The presidential party, Liberación Nacional, and the opposition political party Acción Ciudadana created a compromise tax plan that causes anger and confusion among the people of the country. An A.M. Costa Rica reporter asked random Costa Ricans their opinion about the plan and the majority were either unaware of what the fiscal plan entailed, or scared to answer. And those who did answer had negative opinions.

Basically the plan would extend the current 13 percent sales tax to many other financial transactions and up the rate to 14 percent. Previously exempt activities like hiring professional services and paying for private education now would be taxed.

Martha Zamora, a former legislator during the Abel Pacheco administration and current government employee, was the only person interviewed who was for the tax plan. She was sought out specifically to provide balance to the informal survey. Ms. Zamora from Acción Ciudadana said in an interview that the tax plan has three fundamental changes that the country needs, global tax (renta global), world tax (renta mundial), and tax-free zones (zona franca).

The proposal would tax income from sources outside the country and also begin taxing firms that located in the tax-free zones and mainly make items for export.

“I am one of those wage-earners, and I know I will personally be affected,” said Ms. Zamora. “The country can’t spend all its time with borrowed money . . . these are some of the challenges that cannot be put off anymore. The government needs to tighten the belt. The rich are rich for a reason.”

She also said that one of the reasons the people are opposing the tax plan is because of the negative connotation the term ‘tax’ has. Another is that the people don’t trust the government anymore she said.

“The people oppose the tax plan because they don’t want to pay any more taxes,” said Ms. Zamora. “There is a great
resistance because in the past the government hasn’t showed austerity, so the people distrust.”

There were these few ordinary citizens who wanted to be heard and unafraid to express their discontent. They were interviewed mainly in the vicinity of Hospital Calderón Guardia.

José Santos Méndez Vargas

For me the plan is bad. The proposed plan is mistreating the people. It affects the poor. The rich just hike up the prices, and the poor have to pay. . . . The president doesn’t see what is happening. For her there is no crisis, but for us there is.

Ana Isabel Arias Peña

It makes me feel angry. They say . . . you need to tax more, but all they do is push and push the poor. It really upsets me.

Juan Navarro

Everything that is good for the country is the most important. But those things we know very little about. They don’t explain to the people what that is about, and you can’t eat that. It is really important for an explanation of the proposed plan… What we need is another Figueres. (José Figueres Ferrer was the three-time president of the country.)

Daniel Grijalba

The plan is lousy. The principal thing that I consider is that it is not about getting more taxes, it’s about redistributing the money that is already there. Redistribution is principal. The minister of Hacienda, Fernando Herrero Acosta, is cutting education funds, and that is not necessary.

Benet Miranda

This is not the moment for the plan. It’s not going to help. They should better focus on the fines from the companies. It’s better that they tax those large companies. But the problem here is that there is no control. . . . It’s not about charging more, there just has to be more control of the fines and money. It is not the time to start charging more taxes. A lot of this will affect the people.

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