Taxing court filings considered to raise money for judiciary

A large U.S. law firm has a slogan: How much justice can you afford?

That also might be appropriate for the Poder Judicial here which might be the beneficiary of yet another new tax. This time the tax would be levied on those going to court to collect money on a debt.

The nation has a new, faster law on collecting money, and such cases have more than doubled over the last few years. The staff at the Asamblea Legislativa said that there were 856,685 such cases in 2011.

The new tax would be half a percent on the amount claimed in the initial filing. So if a bank sought to collect a debt for $50,000, the bank’s lawyers would have to pay the colon equivalent of $250 up front.  Of course, there is no guarantee that the bank would prevail in the subsequent hearings.

The legislative staff estimated that the tax would have brought in about $8 million in 2010 and about $7.3 million in 2011.

The proposal, No. 17.526, for the tax had been dormant since 2009 when the measure first was put in the legislative hopper. But now there are active hearings before the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Jurídicos.

The Poder Judicial would use the proceeds to improve services and training, according to a summary.

Testifying last week was Luis Ortiz Zamora, adviser to the Cámara de Bancos e Instituciones Financieras de Costa Rica.

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