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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
AIM
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 171
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Tax agency plans to skim 2 percent from credit card transactions
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry has come up with a new way to collect more taxes.

Via what amounts to a hidden resolution, the Dirección General de Tributación has told banks and processors to skim 2 percent for nearly every credit card transaction starting Oct. 1. The money is supposed to be held for eventual payment of income taxes.

The resolution was tucked away in a nearly inaccessible part of the Web page of the Ministerio de Hacienda, purportedly for public comment. There was no general announcement, although the tax agency contends the proposal was available for public comment since June.

Two resolutions published in the La Gaceta official newspaper Monday described the procedure. The money that is retained is supposed to be applied to future income tax payments. If the amount is in excess of what the taxpayer owes at the end of the year, the balance is supposed to be returned. There is no indication in either resolution about interest being paid, although that is a possibility.

The measure is expected to affect directly expats in the restaurant and tourism business who accept payments by credit cards. Credit payments that are handled outside the country and outside the local banking system would not be affected.
The measure almost certainly will generate litigation, although there is precedence because some sales taxes are collected the same way.

Businesses that are on the so-called simplified system, as are many bars, have been excluded from the requirement, according to the resolution. They pay sales taxes ahead of time when products are delivered.

The resolutions also include professionals, such as physicians and lawyers who are notorious for ducking taxes. The tax agency has been pushing for more use of credit cards so the investigators there can keep track of payments to professionals. This resolution would seem to favor cash payments.

Some merchants might be inclined to impose a 2 percent surcharge on credit card payments.

There does not seem to be any adjustments outlined for cases where a major credit card payment is canceled. This might take place, for example, when a tourist cancels reservations for whatever reason.

News of the policy was published first Thursday by La Nación.  There have been no formal responses from merchants who might be affected and their trade organizations.  The resolutions were signed by Carlos Vargas Durán, director general of Tributación. They are  DGT-R-035-2014 and  DGT-R-036-2014.


The European prince among is subject of a U.S. writer's biography
By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A direct descendant of European royalty, Prince Alfred of Prussia, arrived in Costa Rica in 1927 when he was 3 years old and remained living in the country until his death in 2013. The royal Costa Rican
Marie Stravlo
Marie Stravlo
is now the subject of a new book that details his life and his lineage that traces back to Queen Victoria and numerous other notable European royals.

American author Marie Stravlo wrote the 300-page biography on the prince titled, “Mi amigo el Príncipe. La biografía de Alfredo de Prusia.” In addition to insights into Alfred's life, Ms. Stravlo also claims to give new clues into one of history's biggest unknowns, the disappearance of the House of Romanov, known as the last Russian imperial family. The family was strongly linked to Alfred's lineage, as both his mother and father were distant cousins
of Nicholas II, the Russian czar who was abdicated just after World War I.

Historians and Russian officials are still divided over Nicholas II and the Romanovs' fate, though many believe they were executed by Communists in 1919. But Ms. Stravlo claims that after 15 years of having compiled documents and evidence from Costa Rica and other parts of the world, the century-long case may not be how the majority perceives it.

While adding this puzzling history to the backdrop, the book describes how Alfred's parents, Prince Sigismund of Prussia and Princess Charlotte Agnes of Saxe-Altenburg, escaped the country amid the chaos of the war. In Costa Rica they settled upon Barranca, Puntarenas, on a farm called San Miguel.

Ms. Stravlo says that both Sigismund and Charlotte Agnes were the grandnephew and grandniece of German emperor and king of Prussia Wilhelm II. The couple also had a daughter, Princess Barbara, before they moved to Central America and gave birth to Alfred in Guatemala.

The author, who has also worked as a journalist and on television production, says she was friends with Prince Alfred and was able to collect intimate stories from his perspective over the years. One of those anecdotes involves a young Alfred sitting and eating with workers from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad during their construction of the hydroelectric plant in Cachí.

The book goes on to reveal the prince's love for the arts, nature, and genealogy, a study for which he could have been subject and the
the prince

teacher. He was the founder of the Costa Rican society of genealogical studies in San José. Before Alfred's death at age 88, the author was able to spend extensive time with the prince as she had set out on the project to profile him in 1998. For the past six years Ms. Stravlo says she has dedicated all of her time to researching Alfred and the royal families with which he shared his bloodlines.

Ms. Stravlo will discuss her book Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Espacio Cultural Carmen Naranjo for the 15th International Book Fair that concludes this weekend. The book will be available at local bookstores like Librería Lehmann, as well as Amazon.

Ms. Stravlo shares nationality from both Costa Rica and the United States and lives in Dallas, Texas. She also co-authored “The Lost Romanov Icon and the Enigma of Anastasia,” which is a historical novel that adds to the speculation over the Romanov dynasty and the possible survival of Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Nicholas II. This latest book was first  published in Spanish under REA Ediciones.

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