Customs agency announcement shows that evasion is widespread

Evasion of import tax is big business and epidemic. The  Servicio Nacional de Aduanas of the Ministerio de Hacienda said it had recovered 109 million colons that two firms failed to pay.

The amount is $207,500.

These were not low-budget operations. The customs agency did not name them but said one was an importer of food products and the other was a wine and alcohol importer.

They join the ranks of appliance importers and others who have been nabbed for using false figures on their imports.

The announcement shows that import tax evasion ranges from some street vendor being caught with a car load of clothing

that he brought from Panamá to some of the country’s largest enterprises.

The customs agency said that the contractor of the food importer misstated the contents of powered milk at least 14 times. The ministry analyzed the product to determine it was not as the contractor stated, it said. That cost the firm  56,146,000 colons.

The wine and alcohol importer paid 53 million colons for claims that involved 37,200 bottles of wine and tequila from México and Argentina, said the ministry. The ministry said that the importer understated the amount of alcohol in each bottle of tequila and claimed that the wine bottles were empty.

Benito Coghi, director general of the customs agency said that both cases have been referred to prosecutors due to the falsification of documents. Meanwhile the firms acknowledge the underpayment and made the payments the agency requested.

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