Lawmaker says tax fraud bill being gutted

Lawmakers from Movimiento Libertario and Partido Unidad Social Cristiana declared a three-hour committee recess Monday, and a Frente Amplio member of the same committee claimed the goal was to remove the teeth from a bill against tax evasion.

The unhappy lawmaker is José Ramírez,  the Frente Amplio representative to the Comisión de Hacendarios. The committee is studying a bill characterized as reducing tax fraud.

Ramírez said that other committee members have 25 points of disagreement with the bill as written, but the principal complaint is the requirement to provide a confidential list of shareholders and others who have a beneficial interest in a company.

The bill, as written, would require operators of various types of corporations to submit to the Banco Central a list of all shareholders and others who benefit from the financial activities.  Ramírez and fellow lawmaker Frank Camacho said the other legislators want to restrict this requirement to firms owned by Costa Ricans. Exempted, he said, would be firms that have foreign ownership.

That would promote offshore ownership by parent firms located in so-called tax paradises, Ramírez said.

He said in a release that offshore firms already have to disclose their shareholders when they open bank accounts, so this would not be a burden on firms with foreign ownership.

Although the bill is said to be against tax fraud, the specifics set up access for the government into the financial operations of all companies. Some of the measures have generated objections in the business community.

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