Some expats who own corporations are worried about the status of the annual tax, the impuestos a las personas juridicas. So is Casa Presidencial, which included the bill, No. 19.505 on a list of legislation sent to lawmakers Tuesday. During times when the Costa Rican Constitution does not specifically say the legislature must be in session, the executive branch sets the agenda.
The so-called sesiones extraordinarias were designed to be just that, emergency meetings held at the request of the president. These days the legislature meets most of the year. But from now until April 30, members can work on and vote on only measures listed by Casa Presidencial.
The wish list presented Tuesday contained the names of 70 pending pieces of legislation. The executive branch has the power to add many more. Nearly all are measures that have been in the legislative hopper for some time.
So it is with the corporation tax. The law was approved in December 2011 and went into effect the following Jan. 1.
But somewhere along the line, legislative staffers failed to publish a text that had modifications, and that was enough for the Sala IV constitutional court to nullify it last January.
But in a strange piece of legal maneuvering, the court said that even though the measure was unconstitutional administrators of corporations still had to pay the 2015 tax. Many have declined to do so until they see what lawmakers do with the rewrite, which is identical to the 2011 law.
The introduction to the law claims passage is important for easing the fiscal deficit of the country. But the body of the actual law gives 5 percent of the proceeds to the Registro Nacional for administering the collection and 95 percent to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública for citizen security and fighting crime.
So the money never really goes into the general fund.
There is little chance the legislature will pass the law before Christmas vacation.
The law contains a paragraph that will prorate the amount owed based on when the measure actually goes into effect.
Lawmakers have had the bill since last April.
The tax, like many Costa Rican financial matters, is based on the salary of a specific judicial employee.
For 2015 the tax for an active corporation is 201,700 colons. That’s about $400 at the current rate of exchange. Owners of inactive corporations pay half that.
Companies registered as small and medium enterprises with the economics ministry are exempt.
Another measure of interest to expats on the Casa Presidencial list is 19.716, a new firearms law that still does not give rentistas or pensionados the right to possess or carry weapons.
Curiously, the presidential list does not include bills for new taxes, but they certainly will be added later.