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These stories were published Monday, Dec. 20, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 251
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The tax man throws the citizens a curve ball
By Garland M. Baker 
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The 2004 tax year was full of surprises.  One major surprise was that the tax filing deadline for Form D.101 Version 2 was Dec. 15 instead of the normal Dec. 31. Tributación Directa, the tax collecting agency, and its parent, the Ministerio de Hacienda, the treasury department, did little to announce the change. The earlier date was not on their Web sites, which continue to work erratically. 

Historically, the tax deadline for filing and paying income taxes was Dec. 31. An obscure change in the law moved the date to two and one-half months after the close of a company’s fiscal year.  Most businesses use Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 as the fiscal year. 

The deadline now falls on Dec.15. If that date falls on a weekend, the following Monday is the filing date.  This fact has been published only in obscure places.  For the past two years, Tributación gave extensions to Dec. 31, leaving most filers to believe this is the traditional deadline.

A.M. Costa Rica has reported the incorrect deadline from time to time based on incomplete information from Tributación Directa.

The new tax lottery is another major surprise.  The last tax lottery was in 1994.  To participate one needs to put five invoices in an envelope and deposit it in any Banco Credito Agricola branch.  The prizes make the process worth the effort.  The top prize is 5 million colons.

The objective is to catch tax cheaters.  This is a legal sting using private citizens to catch all those businesses not giving clients true invoices or cash register receipts.  Twenty-eight businesses are being closed in December and 350 more have been notified of closure because they have been caught using incorrect or unapproved receipts. 

Tributación Directa also has given its army of tax collectors marching orders to find all those that should be on the tax roles and aren’t.

Literally, hundreds of militia have crawled the streets of San José and the surrounding Central Valley to gather the tax intelligence needed to fine those not filling out the proper tax forms this year.

Costa Rica makes a lot of money in tax penalties, especially from the small contributors.  Since there are so many ways to avoid paying legitimate taxes, the country has decided to fine people to death.

Here is an explanation of the taxes due:

• Employee withholding, paid each month, is required on salaries and wages over the exempt tax threshold. For 2005 this amount is 367,000 colons a month or about $800. 

• Sales tax is paid the 15th day of the month following the month in which it is collected. 

• A simplified tax report, filed four times a year, is used by very small businesses where taxes are assessed based on what is purchased and not on invoices or sales receipts.  Corner supermarkets called pulperias in Costa Rica are examples of very small businesses.  Tourist shops and small bars can also qualify for this easier tax system.

• Income tax partial payments are required to pre-pay tax obligations just like in almost every country of the world.  The quarterly amount is calculated based on a company’s previous year’s taxes.  Fines are heavy for those who do not make partial payments.

• The Timbre de Educación y Cultural, or education and culture tax is the biggie for all corporate taxpayers by March 31. This tax MUST be paid by everyone who has a corporation and is based on a company’s net capital.  It is not very much but most people forget about it and are fined heavily. 

• Tax Summaries are reported on Form 150 and Form 151.  Form 150 is where employers report withholding on their employees and it is balanced and compared with what employees file.  Form 151, due, Nov. 30, is where businesses report revenue from other businesses, purchases from suppliers and professional services and balances with other companies and individuals reporting the same information. 

• Wheel Tax is the infamous marchamo tax everyone knows about and must be paid every December to drive a vehicle in Costa Rica.  The 

A brief rundown
of annual tax dates
To avoid getting a surprise from the tax man this next tax year, print and pin this article to your refrigerator. 

Here is the most important tax filing deadlines for those who read A.M. Costa Rica.  Explanations of the taxes may be 

found in the adjacent news story about tax deadlines.

January 2005

Employee withholding due Jan. 17.  Form D.103 
Sales Tax due Jan. 17. Form D.104 and D.113 
Simplified Tax Reports due Jan. 17. Form D.105 

February 2005

Employee withholding due Feb. 15.  Form D.103
Sales Tax due Feb. 15. Form D.104 and D.113

March 2005

Employee withholding due March 15.  Form D.103
Sales tax due March 15. Form D.104 and D.113
Income tax partial payments due March 31. Form D.108 
Educational and culture Tax due March 31. Form D.110 

April 2005

Employee withholding due April 15.  Form D.103
Sales tax due April 15. Form D.104 and D.113
Simplified tax reports due April 15. Form D.105

May 2005

Employee withholding due May 16.  Form D.103
Sales tax due May 16. Form D.104 and D.113

June 2005

Employee withholding due June 16.  Form D.103
Sales tax due June 16. Form D.104 and D.113
Income tax partial payments due June 30. Form D.108

July 2005

Employee withholding due July 15.  Form D.103
Sales tax due July 15.  Form D.104 and D.113
Simplified tax reports due July 15.  Form D.105

August 2005

Employee withholding due Aug. 16.  Form D.103
Sales tax due Aug. 16. Form D.104 and D.113

September 2005

Employee withholding due Sept. 15.  Form D.103
Sales tax due Sept. 15. Form D.104 and D.113
Income tax partial payments due Sept. 30. Form D.108

October 2005

Employee withholding due Oct. 17.  Form D.103
Sales tax due Oct. 17. Form D.104 and D.113
Simplified tax reports due Oct. 17.  Form D.105

November 2005

Employee withholding due Nov. 15.  Form D.103
Sales tax due Nov. 15. Form D.104 and D.113
Employee withholding summary due Nov. 30. Form D.150 
Sales and purchases summary due Nov. 30. Form D.151 

December 2005

Employee withholding due Dec. 15.  Form D.103
Sales tax due Dec. 15.  Form D.104 and D.113
Wheel tax (Marchamo) due Dec. 31.  Form D-121 
Income Taxes due Dec. 15.  Form D.101 v2 
 

tax also applies to most boat, airplanes and other types of vehicles.

• Income Tax.  Everyone knows what this is. In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, said Benjamin Franklin. 

This article wasn’t meant to be interesting, just factual.  Anyway, how interesting can taxes be?  Stay ahead of the tax game for 2005. 
 

Garland M. Baker is a 32-year resident of Costa Rica who provides professional services to the international community. He can be reached at info@crexpertise.com. Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica. 

 
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Christmas lottery puts
lots of money on street

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There will be up to $12 million more on the streets for Christmas presents this week as a result of the fat annual lottery decided Sunday night.

The so-called Gordo awarded at least five ticket holders some 350 million colons each or about $770,000. Each ticket has 40 pieces, each called a fracción. Whole tickets sold quickly for 20,000 colons in the week leading up to the Sunday drawing, and purchasers had the option of buying parts of several tickets to hedge their bets.

The winning number was series 249 and ticket 62. Five nearly identical winning tickets are somewhere in the country. Those who hold pieces of a winning ticket receive proportional prizes.

The agency running the lottery, the Junta de Protección Social de San José was quick to point out that winning tickets had been sold in four provinces.

In addition to the big prize, other premiums for 400,000 colons to the second prize of 125 million colons ($275,000) were handed out. The total prizes are about $12 million, and Costa Ricans will begin lining up this morning to redeem winning tickets.

The holders of the big winners will be featured in newspaper and television shows. But as of late Sunday no winner had come forward.

The televised drawing was in the Plaza de la Cultura in front of a wind-whipped crowd. Balls representing the three-digit series number and balls representing the two-digit ticket number were dropped from roulette-type metal baskets. A third basket contained balls denoting the prize.

So the winning number came as a surprise about half way through the drawing and after the series and number had been pickets.

Costa Ricans have until mid-February to claim their prizes, and vendors who sold the big winners will be given a bonus from the Junta and maybe a reward from the winners.

Tamarindo hosts stop
for national surf event

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

More than 100 surfers braved strong winds to compete in the Circuito Nacional de Surf in Playa Tamarindo over the weekend.

Called Mohs Classic, the competition took advantage of "small but surfable waves from a swell that came from Hawaii," said Antonio Pilurzu, head of the Federacion Tico de Surf and the Circuito’s primary organizer. 

The fierce Papagayo winds arrived early this year forcing a two-hour break in the contest Saturday because organizers agreed "the waves were too closed out from the strong off-shore wind." 

Despite these difficult conditions, Pilurzu credited the surfers with perseverance.  In addition, Tamarindo Beach brought a good turn out of supporters, which he credited to the increase in tourists visiting for the holidays. Surfers from all over Costa Rica, as well as Nicaragua, competed.

It was a strong showing for Tamarindo as the hometown competitors took 1st place with Federico Pilurzu in Open, Giovanni Perini in Junior and Ross Menking in Longboard.  Jaco’s Lisbeth Vindas continued to dominate the Women’s category with her third consecutive win in the Circuito Nacional de Surf, having won in Esterillos and Negra in the previous two months. Known for
her aggressive style, Ms. Vindas said: "I had a good time despite the small waves because I got to compete with some different girls in the finals that I don’t always get to see." 

Investigating departments
win honors for work

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Judicial Investigating Organization honored its own during its 31st anniversary celebration Friday.

The gold award for the best department went to the Prison and Transport department. The regional department of Turrialba was given the award for the best record for resolving cases in 2004. 

The gold star was awarded to the Homicide department for its work in the murder of the journalist Ivannia Mora Rodríguez. Although the murder was commited in Curridibat Dec. 23, 2003, officals said that the investigators did not resolve the case until 2004, when arrests were made.

The silver star award went to the sub delgation of Aguirre and Parrita for their work on the case known as the murder of the Russian dancer, Olesya Fedkos, 24. Her body was found on the 29th of January in Playa Parrita. 

The bronze star award was given to the Robbery Division specifically for the cases that related to the theft of valuables from vehicles.

Nicaraguan calls are out

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad says customers will be unable to make international telephone calls to Nicaragua. The institute said that the Nicaraguan telecommunications company has blocked calls originating from Costa Rica. 

This is because Nicaragua has changed codes in certain areas of the country without consulting the cellular phone companies. An employee for the Institute said that people will be unable to phone Nicaragua from their cellular phones until the end of January. 

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Road from the main Route 21 to Tamarindo and Playa Blanca is part of the network the tourism chamber in the area plans to fix with money raised from local sources.
Graphics by the Cámara de Turismo Guanacasteca

 
Guanacaste residents will fix the roads themselves
By Clair-Marie Robertson 
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After the lack of support shown from the Costa Rican government, the private sector in Guanacaste has decided to come together in an attempt to resolve the critical condition of the roads in that area. The Cámara de Turismo Guanacasteca has said that repair of the roads will begin this week. 

According to the chamber of tourism approximately 45 percent of tourists who come to Costa Rica visit the Province of Guanacaste. In Liberia, the Daniel Oduber International Airport has experienced a 100 percent growth between 2003 and 2004. 

After the decline of agriculture, tourism has become the main source of employment for Guanacaste. The chamber estimates that almost 3,000 people from Guanacaste indirectly or directly benefit from tourism. 

At the moment Costa Rica is seen as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world.  The chamber has said that the fact that the roads in Guanacaste are in such a terrible condition will do nothing to encourage tourists to return to Costa Rica. 

In a recent survey carried out at departures of Daniel Oduber International airport, more than 50 percent of air travelers mentioned the bad condition of the roads. In addition to this they mentioned that this was the least enjoyable part of their trip to Costa Rica. 

Although tourism at the moment is the main source of income for the country, the chamber said that if the Costa Rican government does not invest money into improving the condition of the roads, the Costa Rican economy will begin to suffer. 

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, the organization responsible for the maintenance of Costa Rica’s roads, agrees that the roads in Guanacaste are in varying states of disrepair and need re-surfacing. The consejo said that it does not have the necessary funds to begin such a project. 

The chamber has said that this is unacceptable and points to the fact that the main roads needed for the development of the province are not even properly covered in tarmac. An example of this is the route between Villareal to Santa Cruz which unites the political center of the county with the principal tourist areas. 

Patty Yaniz, an owner of the Guilded Iguana in Nosara, said that the roads are in a miserable condition. Mrs. Yaniz said that she is not going to contribute to the reparation of the roads until the companies who are responsible for bringing large trucks into the area agree to put forward money. "If each of these companies give $20 then they will have the money to fix these roads," said Mrs. Yaniz. 

The owner of a surf shop in Tamarindo said that the roads are in such bad condition pirate taxi drivers have taken it upon themselves to collect money and repair the roads. The owner said she is concerned that the poor conditions of the roads will hamper tourism. 

For several months the tourism chamber in Guanacaste has alerted the government about the conditions of the roads, and they have also asked for a solution. The then-minister of Obras Publicas y Transportes, Javier Chávez, toured the region and promised the chamber 


This section to be repaired runs from the main highway, Route 21, to Playa del Coco and beyond.
 
Roads involved in plan

These are the main roads that lead to the main tourist destinations in Guanacaste condition:

Belén-Huacas (route 155)
Huacas- Flamingo (route 180)
Huacas-Matapalo (route  935)
Huacas-Villareal (route 155)

These roads are the  main routes to the Pacific beaches  of Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Flamingo and Conchal. They are in the northwest section of Guanacaste

that he would help. There have been two ministers since then, and none has helped. 

The chamber calculates that the repair project will cost $75,000 of which the chamber has received a donation that will cover 60 percent of this cost. 

The chamber said that it will be responsible for the hiring of the company that will repair the roads and that it will be done in such a way that the public can see how their money is being invested. The reparation work on the roads will begin this week and will be finished in 22 days depending on the finance that is collected. 

The chamber has said that there exists many communities that need better access but they are not able to repair all of the roads. The chamber said that citizens need clear answers from the government regarding problems that have been going on for too long. 

In San José opposition politicians have said the government is deliberately withholding funds for roads to force the public into backing the proposed new tax plan that will raise about $500 million for the government.

The central government has ignored laws that designate fuel revenues to highway funding, and it has used the money elsewhere.

Several communities, although not in Guanacaste, have won cases at the Sala IV constitutional court forcing the central government to surrender budgeted road funds.


 
There is no substitute for personal experience
Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo

"The Devil knows more because he’s old then because he’s the Devil." This is a very interesting dicho. It teaches us that experience is perhaps more important then who we are. In other words, it’s better to have experienced life — the good along with the bad — than to have simply sailed through it on one’s name. For it is experience that makes us who and what we are, not our name alone. 

As a Costa Rican, and one who perhaps talks a bit too much, I do make friends easily. Frequently friends from the United States will ask me the names of this or that bird native to Costa Rica. I have to admit that I’m no ornithologist, but the experience of being asked repeatedly about the birds of my native country has finally prodded me into buying a book on the subject and learning something about our fine-feathered flying friends. 

But, merely being a Tico did not somehow magically confer this knowledge on me.  I gained it through education and experience. I still can’t recognize birds from the sound of their twittering, but I’m working on it.

Another way of interpreting más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo might be "if you live long enough eventually you see everything." This reminds me of a story about my brother’s mother-in-law. After leaving Hospital San Juan de Dios one rainy afternoon, she ran into a person she thought was my brother. She hugged the astonished stranger warmly and began asking him all kinds of questions about the family, her grandchildren, and his job. 

The man disengaged himself from her embrace saying he was afraid there had been some kind of mistake. 
 

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

But, she looked at him and murmured: "Of course I realize I made a mistake, but after hugging and kissing you in front of all these people I might as well go ahead and pretend that I know you. Besides, one Devil is pretty much like another. Who cares!? Men are all the alike." 

Her cousin, who had been observing this exchange was, by now, laughing uncontrollably and attracting the attention of passers by. She couldn’t wait to set this delicious piece of gossip wafting through the family like the aroma from my grandfather’s panaderia. 

Of course, the Devil is also a firm believer in the infinite corruptibility of mankind, and his experience appears to have confirmed him in that belief. But perhaps it’s better for us — mere mortals that we are — if we try to find the real truth in what life has to teach us rather than always just looking for confirmation of that which we think we already know. That’s the only way a person might truly benefit from a liberal education.


 
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New OAS chief should be a strong visionary leader, White House says
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bush administration would like to see a strong visionary leader become the next secretary-general of the Organization of American States, said Scott McClellan, White House press secretary.

Speaking at the White House last week, McClellan said the choice of the new secretary general is "an important decision that will help set the direction of this organization for the next five years."

Former Salvadoran president Francisco Flores and Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez are among those who have been proposed as candidates for the position, which has been vacant since October when former Costa Rican president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez resigned amid a financial scandal in his home country.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said earlier that the United States continues to support "a consensus candidate from Central America, preferably a former president."

McClellan said President Bush discussed the matter in November with Mexican President Vicente Fox at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC forum in Chile.

The press secretary said the Americas are facing big challenges as the region works to consolidate democracy and promote economic growth and opportunity, as well as fight crime, terrorism and drug trafficking. 

"Our view is that we need a strong visionary secretary-general who can make the OAS a vital part of our efforts to meet those challenges, and we continue to consult with fellow members of the OAS to help identify that candidate to meet those challenges," he said.


 
Pinochet suffers stroke that may cloud future of his court appearances
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SANTIAGO, Chile — Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's suffered a stroke Saturday, ahead of a court ruling expected today on whether he should be tried in a human rights case.

The Military Hospital of Santiago said Pinochet's condition has improved, and he is in stable condition. 

Health problems have prevented him from standing trial before. 

The former dictator suffers from mild dementia, and Chilean courts have, in the past, ruled him mentally unfit to stand trial for human rights abuses committed during his 17-year rule. But Chilean Judge Juan Guzman ruled the 89-year-old fit to stand trial, and charged him with murder and nine counts of kidnapping.


 
Newspaper says CIA  maintains its own prison for terrorists in Cuba
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. newspaper says the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has maintained a secret prison for valuable al-Qaida detainees at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Washington Post Friday quoted military officials and intelligence officers as saying the existence of the prison has never been made public before.

The Post says it is unclear whether the facility is still in

 operation. But, it cites intelligence sources as saying the prison has housed detainees from Pakistan, West Africa, Yemen and other countries.

The newspaper says most international terrorism suspects in U.S. custody are held by the U.S. military, not the CIA. Those held by the military are guaranteed access to the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

But the Post says the CIA detainees are held under separate rules and far greater secrecy. Officials at the CIA had no immediate comment. 


 
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