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(506) 223-1327       Published Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 245        E-mail us    
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Income tax filing deadine is Friday in Costa Rica
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

It is tax time again. Tax returns for individuals and companies are due on Friday. Yes, this Friday.

Every company is required to register with the taxman.  This registration happens when one gets a set of legal books approved at the tax authority, Tributación Directa.  The form to do so changed this year from one without a number to Form 406.  The old form had no number and was clumsy looking.  It can still be used until Friday, but starting Monday to register a company to get legal books authorized one must use the new form.

There are several important deadlines for taxpayers in Costa Rica.  The most important ones for expats are Dec. 15 when Form 101 for income taxes is due and March 31 when Form 110 for education and cultural taxes is due.

To be a contributor to the tax system one identifies him or herself on Form 140.

Registering to get legal books approved is not the same as identifying oneself as a taxpayer.  However, getting legal books approved adds a company or individual to the computer system.

Many expats do not file Form 140 because they do not feel they are involved in financial activities as defined by the tax code.  Others do not know about Form 140, and others just feel that if they do not file it the tax collector will not catch them.

Article 2 of the Tax Law 7092 states that every entity involved in a financial activity must file tax information in Costa Rica.  However, owning a piece of property and selling it, making a bundle on the transaction, is not considered a financial activity.

Renting or leasing the land, renting out a house, villa, or condo over the Internet to others like tourists, as many homeowners here do, is considered an income-generating activity and profits are taxable.  Many expats that do this type of rentals collect the money here or outside of Costa Rica and do not pay tax on the profits.

A broker who sells real estate in Costa Rica and makes a commission is also involved in an income-generating endeavor, and taxes are due on the commission earned.  However, many real estate people selling properties to foreigners do not declare their earnings or pay taxes on them.  Some are not even legal residents.

Tax hikes are in Costa Rica’s future.  The current administration is working hard on new tax legislation.  The last tax bill died due to technicalities not content.  This is true even though the content would surely have destroyed the country.

More importantly, taxes in the future will have more of a bite.  The tax dodging games of today will meet harsh penalties.

When a new tax law is reality, the country will be ready.

Things are changing fast in Costa Rica regarding taxes and most people are not aware of what is happening around them.  Banks are perfecting their computer systems to enhance electronic banking.   The reason for this is due to the worldwide movement toward transparency.

Transparency in itself is scary, but when it comes to a collection vehicle for taxes, it is a spine-chilling nightmare.

Bank accounts now are monitored very closely.  Bank officers now regularly call clients asking questions regarding common transactions.  All banking information is available to the tax authorities. 

Moreover, the tax authorities are now doing the checks and balances matching tax returns to money movements.  When the results do not look right, strange people show up at the door requesting to look at records.

Many expats play games with the money they are
making in Costa Rica.  They feel they will never be caught because the country is very disorganized in its collection of taxes.  Others hide their earnings from their home country’s tax department too.

Costa Rica may not currently have a capital gains tax, but the United States as well as other countries do, and citizens are required to pay it even if the money is made here.

The common prescription for a good nights sleep is adequate doses of tax planning and staying on the up and up with all tax authorities.

Garland M. Baker is a 35-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at info@crexpertise.com.  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at http://crexpertise.info.  Copyright 2004-2006, use without permission prohibited.

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Costa Rica
Second newspage

Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 245  

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Art goes into public places
in a variety of forms

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Artistic presentations, performances and music will be hitting the streets of San José Tuesday and Wednesday.  En La Calle, or "In The Street," is an artistic program with the intention of bringing art back into public areas.  This week's presentation features five exhibits in various areas around the capital.

Telephonic audio trip
This event features music from the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, that will be transmitted live by telephone towards Parque Nacional. Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Parque Nacional.

Ya se armó ("Now they are armed")
This presentation the work of Mauricio Miranda poses the question: Can the free distribution of toys create exchanges of ideas that are aimed towards violence and fear as possible ways or presentations of life?  Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the main boulevard and at 11 a.m. in Parque Nacional. Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Parque Nacional, 11 a.m. in Parque Morazán and 12 p.m. in Parque Central. 

Mind reader
Francesco Bracci will be trying discover questions, ideas and anxieties within peoples minds. Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the main boulevard.

Susana Sánchez presents a project that examines how silhouettes can reveal processes of social exclusion in diverse points of a city.
Tuesday at 2 p.m. around Parque Nacional and Parque Morazán.

Dance and Image theater
Ex-Ánima presents a performance of air acrobatics.  The projects seeks to utilize natural spaces of San José, beginning with trees. 
Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Parque Nacional, at 11 a.m. in Parque Morazán and at noon in Parque Central.

The event, which was organized by Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, will be followed up by four more presentations in 2007 beginning sometime in early January. 

More information is available on a website at www.madc.ac.cr

A.M. Costa Rica file photo                         
A production line in Aserrí
Christmas tamales from years past

It is nearing Christmas once again, which in Costa Rica means that traditional foods like tamales will be in high demand.  Over the years, the A.M. Costa Rica staff has written about tamale events, production, customs, sayings and more. For all that you need to know, follow the links below.

The top Christmas treat requires a production line

By Saray Ramírez Vindas

No Christmas is complete in Costa Rica without tamales, and the tradition includes small home factories that turn out the delicious banana-wrapped parcels.

In Aserrí, in the mountains south of San José, the Valverde family and the Tamalera Val-verde has been producing tamales for 52 years...Continue

Tamal time for the whole family or neighborhood

By Daniel Soto

One Latin American tradition that brings all the aspects of the meaning of Christmas charmingly together is the Costa Rican custom of making tamales.

The preparation of tamales usually involves the participation of the whole family or sometimes an entire neighborhood, with folks getting together to prepare the ingredients and assemble the tamales for cooking. It is a lot of fun and one of those marvelous old traditions that brings everyone together in congenial holiday fellowship...Continue

A good batch of tamales starts with a load of banana leaves

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Not only does the green banana leaf protect the corn dough, meat and other goodies inside, it imparts a unique flavor to the cooked finished product...Continue

If you wondered where all the pigs go at Christmas . . .

Dr. Lenny Karpman

Every December the aroma and squeals from rural Alajuela pig farms desist.

The winds of Christmas arrive as if to freshen the air, and a local flock of guinea fowl vanishes about a week before Christmas. All over South America, but especially in Columbia, a 10- to 15- pound whole roast suckling pig is the centerpiece of the Christmas dinner table. Glazed hams are also becoming more popular south of the Rio Grande.

There is no doubt in my mind that more pork goes for tamale filling in Costa Rica in December than for anything else...Continue

The cat in the bag meets the unwraped tamale

By Daniel Soto

“To unwrap the tamale.” This dicho corresponds fairly well to the English expressions “to let the cat out of the bag,” or “to spill the beans.” We can say destaparse el tamal whenever some secret is revealed about someone or some group. But you can also use it when you discover something that has been hidden specifically from you...Continue

Destiny plays role in Costa Rica saying about tamales

By Daniel Soto

No Christmas is complete in Costa Rica without tamales, and the tradition includes small home factories that turn out the delicious banana-wrapped parcels.

In Aserrí, in the mountains south of San José, the Valverde family and the Tamalera Val-verde has been producing tamales for 52 years...Continue

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Costa Rica
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Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 245  

Youngsters and adults carry national flags to honor those foreigners who have contributed to the success of the Tom & Norman Home in la Rita de Guápiles.

Angel of Love Foundation photo

Colorful march highlights Tom & Norman Home celebration
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Sunday was the anniversary of the Tom & Norman Home in La Rita de Guápiles, and the big event was a march by the townspeople who covered the two kilometers from the community's Parque Central and the home.

Various churches in the area participated, and flags of foreign countries were displayed to honor supporters of the home and the Angel of Love Foundation that runs it. The home has been a favorite charity of expats here.

Among those participating Sunday was long-time supporter Donlon Havener of Escazú, who represented the friends of the Angel of Love,

Although started as a home for AIDS sufferers, the home for many years has housed older adults no one else wants.

Originally all of the residents were elderly but the scope of care has expanded to include disabled individuals over the age of 18.  Only one of the original residents survives and continues to live at the home.  Another elderly lady, an American citizen who fell through the cracks in Costa Rica,
also is a resident at the home.  The oldest resident, a man of 90, suffers from senility, and the youngest resident, a woman, 31, is recovering from injuries inflicted by a spouse. 

The Angel of Love Foundation is a non-profit charity supported by donations.

Sunday a benefit concert for the foundation will be held at the Blanche Brown Theatre in Escazú sponsored by the Little Theatre Group.  El Grupo Ebano, a string quartet comprised of musicians from the national symphony, will entertain with classical, popular and Christmas music.  The concert will start at 2:30 p.m.  Admission is free, but donations of non-perishable foods such as rice, beans, sugar and coffee or cash donations are requested.  Further information is available at these numbers: 355-1623, 282-7794 and 289-4481.

Dec. 24 friends of the Angel of Love Foundation will travel to the home to give the residents a Santa Claus Christmas.  This annual event has been a big hit with the residents who receive gifts and treats.  Anyone interested in participating in this event can call 289-4481.

In Costa Rica, the word is a little barb and not a slam
No seas tan pinche

“Do not be so miserly (mean).” I’m sure, however, that our Mexican friends will have a very different interpretation of this dicho. But in Costa Rica we use the word pinche to refer to an avaro, or a skinflint, who never wants to let go of a penny, in other words, a sort of Ebenezer Scrooge type.

Costa Ricans use this expression in many instances. For example, at coffee time when the host or hostess hands out dainty slivers of cake accompanied by weak coffee in demitasses we may say that he or she should not be so pinche. Of course, this might in turn earn you the reputation of being codicioso (greedy).

Things are never referred to as pinche. You cannot say that a car is pinche or a house is pinche. It is used only in reference to people or occasionally to animals, and then as an adjective, never as a noun. To say that a person es un pinche, would be considered too offensive by Ticos. Today’s dicho is cautionary in nature in that it means one is acting like un pinche, not that he or she is un(a) pinche.

Ticos do not use the word to be offensive, but rather in a sort of mildly chiding way. In México it has a much stronger and insulting connotation. Mexicans might well take offense if you refer to them as pinche.  Costa Ricans borrow many words from the Mexican colloquial vocabulary, and then ticoize them.

One interesting — albeit rather oblique — example is the word mano, which, of course, means “hand” in standard Spanish. In Mexican colloquial usage, however, it can also mean “brother,” actually being a sort of abbreviation for hermano.

therefore, would refer to one’s “little brother,” or also a close friend. It’s roughly the same as “bro” in colloquial English.

Ticos, however, have put a little twist on this already

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

rather unusual locution by co-opting the word pie, meaning “foot,” in standard Spanish, to refer to a brother or a close friend. So a Tico who encounters his brother or a good friend on the street may greet him by saying: ¡Hola pie! ¿Como estás?  “Hi, bro! How are you?” A Mexican, on the other hand, as it were, might greet his kid brother with ¡Hola manito! ¿Como le va?  “Hi, bro! How goes it?”

The myriad ways that Spanish gets manipulated as it crosses Latin America’s many national borders often leaves many students of the language wondering just how Latinos ever manage to communicate. Of course, to a greater or lesser degree, we’re all taught standard Spanish in grade school, which is, of course, the great facilitator of such international communication. But also, anyone who travels around much in Latin America quickly begins to pick up the peculiarities of local dialects. Television also has a big impact on the dissemination of dialects. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is the subject of a rather vigorous on-going debate however.

So this Christmas do not be a pinche pie. Share your tamales  with someone special. It’s a nice thing to do and it’ll make you feel good too.

Foundation plans a bingo event to raise funds for children
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Fundacion Roberta Felix will be hosting a bingo beginning at 1 p.m.Sunday at the Corea school in downtown Quepos. The prizes include a television, sound system, refridgerator, washing machine, microwaves, bicycles and more. 

The goal of the bingo is to raise money for the foundations special education center, a location that offers the handicapped children of Aguirre the services they need to develop their full potential, the foundation said.  The center is available to all handicapped children and also offers support services for families.

The foundation operates without government funding 
and is a legally recognized foundation in Costa Rica.  Some of the services it provides are special education, physical and occupational therapy, as well as free transportation to almost the entire county of Aguirre.
The bingo tickets are 1,500 colons and can be purchased either at the door or through the Hotel California in Manuel Antonio.
Donations are being accepted for both the bingo and the children's Christmas party, which is to be held in the foundation center on Dec. 22. 

The foundation can be contacted at 777-3424 (Spanish) or 838-4496 (English) More information can be found at www.felixfundacion.org

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A.M. Costa Rica
fourth news page

Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 245

Free trade treaty coming down to the wire in legislature
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers expected that the free trade treaty with the United States will be reported out of the Comisión Permanente Especial de Relaciones Internacionales y Comercio Exterior this week.

The committee, which had been studying the document, has a deadline of Tuesday to make a decision. Members of the committee are split, but it appears that there are enough pro-treaty members to send the measure to the floor of the full Asamblea Legislativa with a favorable recommendation.

Meanwhile, treaty opponents are promising "street democracy" to try and stop the legislative process. Security around the legislative complex has been beefed up.

Inside the chamber opponents, mainly those from the
 Partido Acción Ciudadana, are planning a strategy of delay. They also are challenging legislative actions with court appeals. Eventually the entire process by which the legislature studied the free trade treaty will be submitted to the Sala IV constitutional court for review.

The treaty will only pass the full legislature by one or two votes, based on the party makeup of the body. There is no guarantee that the measure will pass at all.

The deep division in the legislature is a reflection of the deep devision in Costa Rican society. This country is the only nation that has not ratified the document after signing it.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez supports the treaty, and he was quoted by news services while on a visit to Washington that the country would go to Hell if the treaty were not passed.

Some in Chile think that Pinochet was the savior of country
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Chile's former long-time dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, 91, who died Sunday morning after suffering what doctors called an acute heart attack one week ago, was admired by some Chileans and despised by others.

Human-rights groups say Pinochet will be remembered for the brutality of his dictatorship. According to an official report, Chilean security forces under his rule, killed more than 3,000 of Pinochet's opponents in the years following the 1973 coup. About 30,000 Chileans have testified that they were tortured or detained by his military government.

Sebastian Bret with Human Rights Watch says Chile is still struggling to overcome its dark past.

"Chile is still coming to terms with the legacy that Pinochet left," he said. "And while the country has moved on in many ways, there are still tremendous problems in terms of unexplained situations like affected more than a thousand people who disappeared under Pinochet's rule, the vast majority of whose fate is still unknown."

Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was born in the Chilean port-city of Valparaiso Nov. 25, 1915. He joined the army and rose quickly through the officer corps. In June 1973 at a time of economic and political unrest in Chile, elected Socialist President Salvador Allende made Pinochet his commander-in-chief.

Just three-months later, and with the encouragement of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Pinochet led a coup d'etat against the Allende government and began a purge of government supporters and other left-leaning individuals.

The military junta closed congress, suspended political activity, and imposed censorship. The general and his supporters have defended these extreme steps as necessary to thwart a Communist take-over of the country. Even today, Sebastian Brett with Human Rights Watch, says there are Chileans who believe General Pinochet.

"The people who would defend him down the line are a tiny, tiny minority now," added Brett. "But on the other hand, I think there quite a lot more people who would say that he did bad things but that they had to be done."

The Pinochet government backed away from the socialist economic policies of the Allende government and sold state enterprises and encouraged a vigorous, open-market economy.

Ian Vasquez, director of the Project on Global Economic Liberty at the Cato Institute in Washington, says General
Pinochet's economic policies paved the way for Chile's economic success today.

"His economic team's policies of high growth and modernization really set Chile apart from the rest of Latin America. And it set it on a path to developed country status," commented Vasquez. "His policies have been so successful that they have really served as a model for countries around the world, including the United States where the discussions of reforming social security are based on the successful Chilean pension reform."

After surviving an assassination attempt in 1986, the Chilean leader held a plebiscite two years later to see if voters would support him for another eight years in power. A majority voted "no." Elections were held in 1989 and General Pinochet's candidate lost.

The general surrendered the presidency but remained in command of the army. He held that post until 1998 when he finally relinquished it and took up a parliamentary seat as senator-for-life, which granted him immunity from prosecution.

But that invincibility was shattered in October 1998 when London police arrested Pinochet on a Spanish warrant. After a protracted legal battle, a British judge ruled him unfit to stand trial and he returned to Chile.

Pinochet's legal battles continued in Chile when the country's supreme court stripped him of his immunity in August 2000 and a judge later declared him fit to stand trial. The charges against him were dropped in July 2001 on grounds of his declining health.

In November 2003, in what he called his last television interview, Pinochet spoke at length with a reporter from a Miami-based Spanish language television station, Canal 22.

He said his conscience is clear and that he does not regret anything. He denied murdering anybody or ordering the killing of anyone. That would be an aberration he said. Pinochet said that he is a Christian first, then the rest.

These and other remarks led a Chilean judge, Juan Guzman, to rule in December 2004 that the former strongman was mentally fit to stand trial on murder and kidnapping charges.

In 2005, Gen. Pinochet was facing charges related to the murder of one Chilean and the disappearance of nine others as part of Operation Condor, a conspiracy by six South American dictatorships in the 1970s to hunt down and kill their left-wing opponents. He was also under investigation by Chilean authorities for tax fraud and money laundering.

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