Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
The answer to the matter of improvement of facilities at Hospital México and Hospital San Vincente de Paul in Heredia, which Sr. Albert Nobert raised in Monday’s letter, is the same as the answer to the matters of shortages of resources for Costa Rica’s schools and teachers, roads, police, environmental protection, and everything else. If we want the government to spend more money, we have to provide them with more money. It’s really pretty simple.
Costa Rica has a chronic inability to efficiently collect taxes. Retail sales go untaxed despite the law. It’s been reported that about one in six professionals (physicians, dentists, attorneys, accountants, architects, engineers and others) pay any (any!) income tax at all. And the system of real estate taxation in which some property owners never pay their taxes and others pay at the same level for decades is a joke.
Various proposals have been put forth to impose the tax burden more uniformly and more fairly. While I’m no proponent of a value added tax, from a procedural perspective it makes great sense, regressive though it would be. A fair and comprehensive imposition of an income tax would be more just but also more difficult to impose. And perhaps we expats should pay more of the bill.
The fact remains that if we wish the government to provide those things which we, as individuals, cannot provide, we will have to pay for them. Sr. Nobert and I cannot afford to upgrade the hospitals’ facilities, but the community as a whole can if we have the will to do so.