Tax agency says that technology is helping to catch fake expenses

The nation’s tax collecting agency said that it detected 2,981 fake reports of expense payments to the dead, vagrants, minors and companies either out of business or non-existent over the last five years.

The fake reports were in the annual  D-151 form that taxpayers have to file each November to show major income and expenses. The final tax return due in December is based on this form. It is not rocket science to realize that fake payments to fake individuals or firms can reduce the tax bite.

But the problem is that the Ministerio de Hacienda’s Dirección General de Tributación is getting more technology to catch the fakes.

Costa Rica keeps a pretty good record of deaths, births and marriages on a public data base in the Registro Civil. But the tax

agency said Thursday that there also are non-public data bases that are being used to cross-check the information. The cross-checking began in February.

The tax agency said that the frauds so far in using this system of fake payments has reached 18.7 billion colons, about $34 million. The agency said it would follow up with demands for fines, payments and interest.

The tax collectors still have a along way to go. Despite many forms and inspectors defrauding the government on income tax appears to be a national pastime.

For example, payments to foreign suppliers seldom are checked. In fact, they are not even listed on the D-151.

However, the agency said it would be checking some of these expenses through the customs department to make sure there were deliveries from overseas.

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