Drafts of proposed tax laws available for comment

A proposed change in the nation’s sales tax laws would raise some 600 billion colons or about $1.34 billion a year in new income for the government.

The Ministerio de Hacienda has posted on its Web site drafts of two proposed laws that will be presented to the legislature in April.

If passed, the measures would institute a value-added tax in place of the current sales tax. The tax would be 13 percent in 2015, 14 percent in 2016 and 15 percent in 2017, according to the draft.

The draft of the sales tax law leaves intact an agreement with tourism operators that they would pay no tax this year, 5 percent the second year and 15 percent the third year.

That agreement grew out of a dispute when the government tried to subject the industry to sales tax for five previous years.

The public has until March 27 to comment on the proposals.

The tax would exempt the basic food basket, veterinarian services, supplies for agriculture and fishing as well as medicines and exports.

Printed books would be untaxed, but electronic ones would be, said the draft.

Rent from homes would be exempt from taxes, suggesting that commercial rentals would be taxed.

Electrical and water bills under a minimal amount a month would not be taxed. Wheelchairs and other orthopedic devices would not be taxed and neither would private health care. But surgeries and hospitalizations would be subject to the tax, the draft said.

Religious organizations would be exempt as would admission to non-profit cultural, artistic and sports events. There are exemptions for non-profit organizations, too.

Private educational services also were listed as being exempt, although other news outlets are reporting that they would be taxed.

A second measure reforms the income tax laws and applies higher rates to those earning higher salaries.

Both measures are expected to face rough going in the Asamblea Legislativa where some members are unhappy that the government has shown little tendency to reduce expenses.

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