Lawmakers consider effect of imposing tax on sales of lottery tickets

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would change the law that exempts certain transactions from sales tax.

That is why Delia Villalobos, president of the Junta de Protección Social, testified Wednesday that sales of lottery tickets should continue to be exempt.

The current sales tax is 13 percent, but the central government is trying to win passage of a value-added tax that would be 15 percent in two years.

The Comisión de Asuntos Hacendarios is considering the exemption bill, No. 19.531. Government officials point out that there are many transactions that are exempted from the current sales tax.

The administration of former president Laura Chinchilla even issued a decree that imposed sales tax on food items but exempt certain low-budget products, such as rice and cheaper cuts of meat.

Ms. Villalobos argued that the lottery agency would lose money that it uses for social purposes if it had to remit sales tax. About 70 percent of the lottery proceeds go to prizes, but 12 percent goes to 395 government programs and social organizations, she said.

The lottery agency estimates that sales tax would cost 2 billion colons a year, nearly $4 million.

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