With the legislative endorsement of the law against tax fraud the Ministry of Finance will be able to have access to the list of shareholders of corporations, and the people behind other legal entities.
The bill which was approved in second debate by the Legislature stipulates: an obligation to accept as a method of payment, in addition to cash, credit cards and debit cards; an obligation to be up to date with tax payments before making contracts or applying for permits, concessions or authorizations with any state institution; the introduction of penalties for tax advisers engaged in illegal maneuvers to evade or reduce the amount to be paid by taxpayers; and strengthening of the processes of judicial collection.
The Directorate General of Taxation has hired an external service that cross matches taxpayer data in public databases to identify suspicious patterns that might suggest misconduct.
The project called Predictive Model started to be implemented by the Ministry of Finance of Costa Rica this year, and aims to analyze the behavior of firms and individuals in order to identify suspicious or unusual patterns in the process of declaration of income and tax payments.
The Constitutional Court notes that the bill against tax fraud which aims to create a register of shareholders and preventive asset freezing, "contains no substantive defects".
From a statement issued by the Constitutional Court:
Through judgment No. 2016-15712 15:50 hrs. of October 27, 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled on the Legislative Consultation put forward by several Members on the Bill to improve the fight against tax fraud.
A declaration of unconstitutionality has been given to the section of the tax code that allowed the Treasury to demand payment of penalties and interest allegedly owed on taxes before the right to a defense can be exercised.
The slowness and inefficiency with which the Taxation department processes tax disputes, sometimes involving decades before there is a resolution, led to the outlandish idea on the part of lawmakers of putting the cart before the horse.In order to solve the problem of stubborn evasions where people take advantage of the inefficiency of the Taxation department, a decision was made to take away from companies the right to contest the results of tax audits, forcing the taxpayer to pay the amounts ordered by these audits, within in a deadline of one month, in order to be able to initiate formal questioning of those results.Now, the Supreme Court of Costa Rica has taken away that power from the Taxation department, declaring it unconstitutional.
The legislative opposition in Costa Rica has once again submitted a replacement text for the law against tax fraud, eliminating from the project the seizure of bank accounts of companies suspected of tax evasion.
With the motion filed by the opposition deputies are aiming to prevent the Directorate General of Taxation from having the capacity to seize or ask a judge to seize bank accounts of taxpayers suspected of tax evasion.
In January 2017 a rule will come into effect which allows the lifting of bank secrecy by court order at the request of the Tax Administration.
Decree 37-2016 Law to strengthen fiscal transparency and governance for the SAT was published today in Diario de Centroamerica, along with the dates for when each of the amendments adopted in the reform becomes effective.
The Government is once again bringing to the table the concept of global income, to force tax residents in the country to declare and pay taxes on profits earned abroad.
The Ministry of Finance has announced that"... they are working on a substitute text to a reform of income tax, which would mean a profound change to the initiative which is in Congress."This proposal is for tax any income generated from commercial activities outside of Costa Rica, by those tax residents who stay at least 183 days a year in the country.
The amount paid to the Tax Authority corresponds to unpaid taxes, plus penalties and interest.
An article on Lahora.gt reports that the Superintendent of the SAT, Juan Francisco Solorzano, said that "... It is the largest payment made by any entity, in relation to adjustments that had been made or that had been ordered as a result of a judicial process from which it was ruled that there was tax fraud or tax evasion. "
Treasury data shows that in respect to income tax on legal persons, there was a 70% shortfall on potential revenue, representing 4.23% of GDP.
"... We are still finding fraud, smuggling, omissions, arrears and taxpayers taking advantage of weaknesses in our laws, they are still looking for ways to default on their obligations, therefore we are trying to improve controls and our tax laws," said Helio Fallas, Minister of Finance in Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica the private sector claims that the Ministry of Finance is not telling the truth when it there is an essential need to create a register of shareholders under its control in order to comply with the OECD.
From a statement issued by the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of Private Business Sector (UCCAEP):
On average in Costa Rica more than one in five companies classified as Large Taxpayers do not pay taxes.
When the Tax Department does not fully complete its duties, competition between companies is settled not by the quality of products or services, or for the excellence of its managerial staff and their strategic direction, but for the ability of their tax advisors to reduce the amount of taxes paid.
The new draft law on tax fraud prepared by the opposition and which must be reviewed by the Ministry of Finance excludes the concept of collection and seizure by administrative authorities.
After having negotiated for the opposition bloc in Congress to amend the bill originally submitted by the Ministry of Finance, the new bill is ready and among the changes is the elimination of the incorporation of the concept of fines and embargos imposed administratively. It maintains the collection and seizure of tax debts through the courts.
In Costa Rica the majority of MPs are opposed to the bill which would give the Treasury the ability to penalize delinquent taxpayers, a measure considered unique to the judiciary.
The Government will have to amend the draft law to improve the fight against tax fraud if it wants the Legislature to approve it. The opposition is mainly relted to the fact that the project would grant the ability to make charges and put in place embargoes without a court order, and there are also "... objections to tax advisers being made to pay part of the taxpayers debts, if the Administration considers that they gave the wrong advice."
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