There’s a good chance motorists will have to pay ministry’s marchamo

The Ministerio de Hacienda is acting as if there will not be a Sala IV decision that affects the way the marchamo or road tax is figured for each vehicle.

Some motorists have seen a dramatic increase in the marchamo assessed against their vehicle. In one case, the owner of an older vehicle said that the marchamo for 2016 was double what was assessed in 2015.

The bulk of the increase comes from taxes on the value of the vehicle even though the ministry assesses a 13 percent tax on the sale of the marchamo.

Reporters for Spanish-language news outlets have compared the ministry’s values with those of vehicles on used car lots and found that in many cases, the ministry was much higher, perhaps as much as 20 to 25 percent. That means the taxes also will be proportionately higher.

On the other hand, some older vehicles have been assessed for about that same amount. A 1993 Kia Sportage, for example, has been assessed 72,150 colons for 2016, up about 2,700 from this year.

Still collections seem to be slow, perhaps as more vehicle owners await news of the Sala IV constitutional court filing.
The Instituto Nacional de Seguros said that 138,981 marchamos had been issued by 4 p.m. Friday.

Even if the Sala IV agrees that the ministry violated rights by incorrectly computing the marchamos, magistrates probably will not order that the excess money be returned to motorists.

That same situation developed with the tax on corporations. The court found the tax to be unconstitutional for technical reasons in January, but they said that the tax still could be collected for 2015.

Some lawyers expressed amazement, but the courts also are tied to the national budget.

The same condition may develop this year, although there probably will not be any decision before the Dec. 31 deadline for paying the marchamo without penalty.

The court may decide that the ministry messed up the computations but that motorists should pay the amount anyway while the ministry fixes its system for the 2017 marchamos.

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