Beach assessments appear to be higher than originally thought

A Canadian has determined that his beach concession in Playa Matapalo is being assessed at 50,000 colons per square meter. That is more than he expected when he travelled to Costa Rica for his winter vacation.

The man, Greg Allen, complained in December that the rental or canon he will have to pay on the beach concession soared more than 515 percent. That was before he did the math.

Since he has a concession of 1,435 square meters, the base value on which the rental will be assessed is 71,750,000 colons or about $146,000. The rate is 4 percent for residential and tourist properties like Allen’s, so he expected a bill for $5,839 or 2,870,000 colons.

Allen will be expected to pay that amount for five years until a new assessment is determined.

Depending on the location, other residents of the area will pay a lesser assessment per square meter. But commercial ventures have to pay 5 percent, Allen noted.

The previous year, Allen paid a rental of $700 on his property, which also includes a home.

Gustavo Álvarez, a lawyer in San José who has represented Playa Matapalo lot owners for years, will be attending a public meeting Jan. 30 at the municipal office in Quepos to discuss the issue, Allen said. The Canadian said he encourages anyone who has an interest in changing the maritime zone laws and assessments to attend.

The Yukon resident said previously that the soaring taxes and maritime rents appear to be a general problem among expats in Costa Rica. On his street there is a modest bed and breakfast where the annual tax is $7,800, he added.

Allen said that when he visited the beach this holiday, he noticed that the area is becoming even more desolate and that there are no new businesses. The few that exist are having a difficult time staying afloat, he said. There is no new construction, and many lot owners feel they have no choice but to look at selling.

“But we are all aware that no one is buying ocean front lots because of the maritime zone regulations,” said Allen. “There is little work available for the locals and everyone is suffering the economic crisis.”

On the positive side, Allen said there appears to be a lot more awareness being expressed by the government at the municipal level and at the government offices in San José. Mr. Allen said he has started speaking to anyone in government who will listen and is hopeful that he can get the support of the locals and concessions holders in the area to take formal legal action to change the law.

Municipal officials are talking about the issue and acknowledging that this is a big problem for Matapalo, so Mr. Allen said he feels that residents have to act now. Otherwise, the issue will be forgotten once again and nothing will get done and everyone will go bankrupt, he said.

Part of the problem that is affecting beach dwellers is the way the Dirección General de Tributación attempts to compute the value of land. A chain hotel that agrees to pay a large amount for a beach concession to a third party can drastically increase the perceived value of all the nearby land.

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