Vehicle valuations are now a hot topic

Expats would be wise to delay paying their annual marchamo or road tax until they see how the latest political battle plays out.

The marchamo fee is collected by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, but the obligatory insurance is just a small part of the annual bite. And some vehicle owners have complained this year that the bite is bigger than it should be.

The dispute centers on how the Ministerio de Hacienda valued motor vehicles here. The bulk of the marchamo is a tax levied by the ministry.

This is the same ministry that levies the tax on vehicles imported into the country and makes them cost twice their market value elsewhere.

This year some of the ministry figures appear to be 20 to 25 percent higher than they should be. Comparisons with real vehicles being sold for real prices point out the problem.

The dispute reached the legislature Thursday.  Otto Guevara Guth of Liberación Nacional told the minister and vice president, Helio Fallas, that the marchamo amounts were unconstitutional because certain mandatory publications had not been made.

He said he was going to file a constitutional case to have the marchamo tax thrown out.

For its part, the Ministerio de Hacienda said later that the new valuations would remain.

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