Exit tax status still secret, as government stays mum

Although the new land exit tax has been suspended, the government does not appear to want anyone to know.

In fact, there has been no official announcement of the suspension from the Dirección General de Migración or from the Ministerio de Hacienda. Even Casa Presidencial with its army of public relations writers has been mum.

The ministry, which contains the tax collecting agency, still hasan announcement on its Web site that the tax has been put in force. Tica Bus continues to display a ministry poster that tells travelers to pay the tax at Bancrédito. The poster also mentions a $2 charge being levied for inspecting baggage. Travelers pay this charge even if they have no luggage.

Although the tax won legislative approval in September, the ministry did not report that it was going into effect until Nov. 29. The effective date was the following Monday, Dec. 2.  The ministry announcement admitted that there was no way for travelers to pay the tax at the land borders. Payment had to be made in advance at a bank. However, the ministry did promise that soon the bank would be putting in machines to collect the tax at the major border crossing points.

Predictably, not having a way to collect the tax at the border created chaos, and officials had to suspended the tax late Dec. 2.

But they seem to be keeping this fact a secret. Those who continue to pay the tax find out that this was unnecessary when they reach the land crossing points. John Koger, an agent for Tica Bus in Alajuela, said that the bus firm is not collecting the tax and that he was told that those who have paid in the past and the tax was not collected can use the proof of payment in the future.

“My best recombination is for people to call Migración, through the call center, for the best information,” he said. Except for the bus  company and Koger, the bulk of the information about whether the tax is being enforced comes from travelers who made the border crossing.

Officials rushed the tax into effect to take advantage of the heavy flow of travelers over the holidays.

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