A chamber president put a different spin on the problem of tax fraud when he spoke to lawmakers Wednesday.
The man, Enrique Egloff, said that the bulk of the fraud comes from smuggling and companies that pay employees off the books or the self-employed who duck taxes. This is called informalidad in Spanish. Egloff is president of the Cámara de Industrias. He was speaking about a proposed tax fraud bill, No. 19.245.
Among other requirements, the bill opens up company records to the tax man and creates a list of shareholders, which otherwise would be confidential. The Banco Central is supposed to guard the list.
As if to underline the chamber president’s statements, the Ministerio de Hacienda said this week that its Servicio Nacional de Aduanas, the customs agency, reported that 335 importers had underestimated the value of their goods enough to avoid paying 53 billion colons in import duties. That is about $97 million. That was just for this current tax period, the ministry said.
The ministry said that tax investigators had compared import declarations against eventual listings in the Registro Nacional that reflected the value of goods.
The ministry also said that the importers did not declare payments that had to make to acquire rights to sell branded products.
Also Wednesday, tax police confiscated
10,000 bottles of alcohol that had been purchased at the Depósito Libre de Golfito. The ministry said that the owner of two Heredia bars purchased the alcohol for resale, which is prohibited for products that come for the tax–friendly Deposito.
At the checkpoint in Guaycará de Golfito on the Interamericana Sur, Policía de Fronteras confiscated a pickup load of alcohol being trucked in from Panamá, they reported..
Egloff also told lawmakers on the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios that 90 percent of the members of his chamber of commerce are small businesses and that the more money they pay actually is strengthening the off-the-books firms in Costa Rica.
He rejected generalizations that blamed business operators for the fiscal problem of the country, according to a summary by the legislative staff.