Presidential aides doing lots of legislative arm twisting for tax fraud bill

Legislative liaisons from the Presidencia are trying to make deals with political parties in the legislature so some tax bills can be passed.

Discussions have been held with the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana and with the Partido Liberación Nacional.

Representatives of President Luis Guillermo Solís are known to be pushing a tax fraud measure that seems to have gained traction in the wake of disclosures of the Panamá Papers.

Although the documents stolen from the Panamá law firm did not involve many Costa Ricans, the concept of hiding money in offshore corporations is a hot-button issue.

There are no measures in the legislature to address this point, but administration officials are at least using the disclosures to suggest massive offshore hoarding.

Casa Presidencial workers have hopes of getting the tax fraud

bill passed with a requirement that all corporations report the names of shareholders or other beneficial parties.

Many firms already make their shareholders public because that is a requirement of doing business with the government or to participate in some government small business programs. Another Costa Rican law requires newspapers to publish the names of their shareholders, which is why La Nación runs full pages of names once a year.

There is a lot of resistance in the business community to providing these lists even though the government is promising to keep them confidential. Some investors fear the names will fall into the hands of criminals.

So far the central government is promising to make the lists available only to the tax agency, the Dirección General de Tributación, and the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas.

President Solís is hoping for some kind of legislative victory, and the tax fraud bill is the best bet. He is in Europe now, but his aides are hard at work.

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