Lawmakers move to raise exit tax $4 for sports

Those leaving the country would have to pay $4 extra in taxes, according to a measure that received approval in a legislative committee Tuesday.

The proposal, if approved by the full legislature, would raise the airport exit tax from $29 to $33. The money would be used to combat the social problems of youth via the national Olympics committee, according to a legislative summary.

The committee that gave the favorable vote is the Comisión Permanente Especial de Juventud, Niñez y Adolescencia.

Gerardo Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz of Restauración Nacional, the lawmaker who is chairman of the committee, promptly posted the news on his Facebook page.

“The country’s tourism is not going to go broke because 2,000 colons is collected for the exit tax,” he was quoted as saying. “This is a valid effort to have more athletes with medals and put the name of the country up high.”

Other lawmakers seemed to agree. Silvia Sánchez Venegas of the Partido Liberación Nacional said that the legislature should ask President Luis Guillermo Solís to put the bill, No. 19.468, on the agenda for the extraordinary session that begins in December. During that time lawmakers can only consider bills that have been listed by the executive branch.

Franklin Corella Vargas of the Partido Acción  Ciudadana also urged passage of a proposal  to create a ministry of sports. The country lacks a clear public policy on sports, he said. 

That measure has been languishing in the  legislature for at least four years, although there is a person named as minister of Deporte.

Because the tax would be a direct one, the money would not show up in the national budget, which is running a substantial deficit.

The cash simply would be channeled to the government to distribution as officials decide.

The tax, as specified, would cover both foreigners and Costa Ricans who leave the country. The text of the bill is not yet available at the legislature, so still unclear is if the tax also would be imposed at the land border crossings where the current levy is $7.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo says that more than 2 million tourists visit the country each year, so the tax bite would be about $8 million from tourists alone.

In 2012 lawmakers approved a $1 hike in the airport exit tax to be used to oppose trafficking in persons. The measure went into effect in February 2013.

Many airlines are now including the exit tax in ticket prices so many travelers would be unaware of the assessment.

Costa Rica also has a $15 arrival tax that usually is included in airline ticket prices. That means if the $4 proposal passes a tourist family of five would pay a total of $240 entering and leaving Costa Rica.

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