Lawmakers vote to double the tax on motels to 60%

Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to approve an increase in tax on motels, the name of places here for sexual liaisons. Operators will be hit with an 83 percent tax.

Some 40 lawmakers approved on first reading the bill, No. 18.718, that doubles the 30 percent tax to 60 percent.  The Instituto Mixo de Ayuda has said that this would bring in 700 million colons a year. That would be about $1.33 million and 200 percent more than the agency gets now from the tax.

The bill specifically lists the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social as the recipient of the tax and gives the government agency the power to close down operations that fail to pay the tax.

The tax also covers massage parlors, night clubs, pensions and hotels that are not listed with the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. These operations, too, are those designed for sexual encounters.

Such places already pay an additional 23 percent tax, so the final tax bill will be 83 percent on top of their own fees.

Some 133 businesses are believed to be subject to the proposed tax.

The bill needs one more vote in the legislature before being sent to President Luis Guillermo Solís.

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