Lawmakers seek new tax — this one’s for the movies

First there was the tax on corporations for security. Then there was the tax for the wildlife. And then there was a tax on air travelers to support projects against human trafficking.

Now a handful of lawmakers has floated a new tax that would be dedicated to strengthening the Costa Rican movie industry.

These dedicated taxes are directed to specific institutions and agencies by the law that created them. That is similar to the new tax on corporations that will be due again by Jan. 15.

The money goes to the security ministry and a few other agencies involved in law enforcement.

Meanwhile, lawmakers Monday gave a second and final favorable vote to bill No. 17.594 that is supposed to fight trafficking in persons. This is the measure that assesses a $1 tax on air travelers. There is some confusion on exactly how the tax would be applied. Available texts of the measure on file at the legislature say that the tax will be $1 for each air traveler exit from the country. But Annie Saborío Mora, a lawmaker who has been involved in drafting the law, was quoted Monday saying that the tax would apply to the entry and exits just for tourists.

To some extent her view is consistent with the Costa Rican attitude that sex trafficking is foisted on the
country by North American and European male tourists. The law also covers trafficking for forced labor.

The wildlife tax is being examined for constitutionality by the Sala IV. The bill already got one favorable vote in the legislature. The measure assesses a $7 charge on payments of municipal taxes, payment of the annual road tax and on construction permits. The bill creates a special agency to handle the fund and use the money for projects against human trafficking, such as the banners at Juan Santamaría airport.

The text of the movie tax bill was not available online Monday night. But a release from the legislature said that the new tax on the price of admission to entertainment events would go into a fund that would either give loans or subsidies to moviemakers. Costa Rica already has a Centro Costarricense de Producción Cinematográfica under the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

Alicia Fournier Vargas, a lawmaker, made a presentation but a summary of her talk did not say how much the tax would be.

The Centro de Producción needs a reform to respond to the needs and expectations of the creative sector, she was quoted as saying. The new measure is No. 18.601. There already are taxes on admission fees to entertainment events, so this would be in addition. Seven other lawmakers were listed in support.

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