The saga of the $5 + $2 land exit tax is very much typical pura vida

Note to expats:

You folks are on your own when it comes to the land exit tax.

A.M. Costa Rica wrote about the tax in December, when an attempt to enforce it led to chaos at the border crossings. The problem was not the $5 fee (plus $2 more for baggage search even if the traveler has none).

The government created a tax and did not provide an easy way to pay it. Only now are a few credit/debit card machines appearing at the major land crossing points. Officials expected travelers to visit Bancredito before going to the border.

The mystery is why did the Dirección General de Tributación pick the least known state bank to handle the tax instead of Banco Nacional or Banco de Costa Rica.  Even today Bancredito does not even mention the land exit tax on its Web site. Maybe that is because bank officials and tax agency officials have not figured out how to accept the tax online.

So from Dec. 23 until Friday expats were in the dark as to whether they need to pay the tax before crossing the border. A helpful lady at Tributación insisted strongly in early January that the tax was being collected. Her story ran counter to the reports from expats who actually crossed the border.

When the finance minister, Edgar Ayala, returned from a heart operation in the United States, a reporter asked him in mid-January about the tax. He really did not know but he said he had heard of some complaints.   That probably was the chaos just before Christmas.

He immediately instructed an aide to investigate and report to the newsman the results of the inquiries. The aide never did.

But the Ministerio de Hacienda, the parent agency of Tributación, announced Thursday that the tax would go into effect today, Monday, March 3. A.M. Costa Rica wrote a news story. That is HERE!

Then the electrons were hardly dry on the news story when the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería sent out a press release saying the agency would be collecting the tax starting in the first minutes of Saturday, March 1.

Saturday, John Koger, who operates A Safe Passage, a Tica Bus agency, reported that he was told by bus company officials that the tax has been suspended again.  The bus company ought to know because it is ready to provide the tax receipts for its passengers. No one in government was available to confirm the suspension.

Hacienda is the same ministry that draws up the nation’s budget.

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