Confusion still reigns over the country’s land exit tax

Conflicting accounts continue to swirl around the ever-evasive subject of the land exit tax. The law’s many interpretations have long confounded expats and now seem to be confusing government officials, whose responses remain inconsistent.

Wednesday the finance minister, Edgar Ayales, said the $5 exit tax was in effect and that agents at the borders are enforcing the payment.

However, reports from those close to the borders say the regulation may be there on paper, but not in practice.

Leonardo Brenes of Tica Bus said that the tariff has been suspended since December and border agents do not have a uniform method of collection. “Our buses go everyday to Panama and Nicaragua,” he said. “They haven’t been collecting it.”

According to Artículo 33 of Ley 8764, travelers shall pay $5 upon exiting the country.

The only exemptions, as stated in Artículo 232 of the same law, are for government officials traveling for work, those working with or as border control agents, and those who have permission from an appropriate ministry. Ayales said Wednesday that he believes there is pending legislation designed to soon allow those who live by the borders to cross for free.

Resolution DGT-R-05-2014, which was passed on Feb. 24, officially reiterates the law and expands upon the process to receive the payment back if the exit pass is not used.

A representative from Migración y Extranjería, Lisseth Ramirez, said her agency is reporting that tax will be enforced starting April 1. The initial law was supposed to go into effect Dec. 23 but has been temporarily suspended in intervals since its adoption. Immigration agents have the responsibility to make sure the tax is paid, according to the law.

Ministerio de Hacienda representatives said the exit tax was an obligation and that they would investigate any sources of confusion.

By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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