Lawmakers plan Panamá Papers hearings

The Asamblea Legislativa has decided to create a committee to review the current tax laws for loopholes that encourage evasion. The full assembly took the action Monday based on revelations of the Panamá Papers.

The committee will consist of nine legislators who will have 90 days to present a report. The Partido Acción Ciudadana said that the principal objective was to identify mechanisms or practices used to evade or avoid taxes. That characterization was at odds with an assembly summary that just addressed evasion, which is illegal. Avoidance is generally considered to be legal methods to reduce taxation.

The commission is expected to receive testimony from experts from the Ministerio de Hacienda, the Procuraduría de la República, and the Fiscalía Adjunta de Delitos Económicos, Tributarios, Aduaneros y de Legitimación de Capitales. In addition, testimony is expected from national and international organizations.

Few Costa Ricans were named in the hacked Panamá Papers, in part because individuals here do not have to rely on the Mossack & Fonseca Co. law firm to create an offshore entity. That was the firm whose computers were hacked. Residents here can easily open a bank account or set up a company in Panamá or a low-tax jurisdiction.

The Partido Acción Ciudadana is expected to have two members on the committee.

Costa Rica officials are quick to respond to news articles although the general situation of using offshore corporations or other entities to reduce national taxes have been well known.

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