Trials and Tributation


When it comes to tax I’ve had dealings with the little brown envelopes of Britain’s Inland Revenue – known to its victims as the Inland Revenge – followed by the tricolour productions of the local Hotel des Impots in rural France and now, in Costa Rica, the online taradiddles of the department of Hacienda known as Tributation – which conjures up visions of subject nations paying their dues to heavily bearded Assyrian monarchs, rejoicing in names like Shalmanezer III and Tiglath Pileser the Umpteenth.

My tax affairs here are considerably simpler than they were in either Britain or France….but Tributation is equal to the challenge. While, in my experience, individual taxmen are both pleasant and helpful, those who design tax forms must have been dropped in by alien forces – and when it comes to online forms those alien forces must have originated in the Dungeon Dimensions

Two years ago we had EDDI I. It had a glitch….so you had to go to the central Tributation office to be told how to get round it.
Last year we had EDDI II. It worked perfectly.

Frustrated, the Dungeon Dimensions came back fighting.

You could declare by opening a portal on Hacienda’s website.

Yes, you could open the portal…but apart from inviting you to pay a voluntary tax on your finca – fat chance – there was no provision for declaring your firm’s liability for tax.

Off on the bus to San Jose to Tributation….only to find that since my last visit, they had nattily hidden the entrance to the office down a side road.
You only knew it was there by the presence of a man lopping the top from fresh coconuts to refresh the weary traveler with the water within.
Together with lottery ticket sellers it is an unmistakable indication of the entrance to a government office.

Once inside, I was directed to the kiosk…a bank of computers where staff guided bewildered citizens through the process.

I opened the portal..waited for ten minutes until a member of staff was free…and was told that I could not use it until I had registered our company at the office upstairs.

But it is registered…EDDI II took it with no problems.
Ah. That was EDDI! This is the new portal!

Apparently I had to produce a copy of our company registration, together with an officially stamped paper with the reference number of our electricity supply….

Back on the bus then and into the local electricity board office.

The security man on the door used to work at the bank…so we had a ten minute catch up time…
Then the chap on reception wanted to practice his English.
Then he couldn’t find us on the computer.

Amazing how they can manage to find us for the bill….

Things are, of course, complicated.
We have two meters.

One monitors the supply to our current house – our old holiday house.
It is in the name of the vendor.

We thought about changing it to our own name..but if you change it you have to give up the supply and wait to be reconnected ….yes, the mind boggles and the only reason I can think of is to make work for the staff.
Sucking of teeth of neighbours persuaded us that this was not a good option. You could be, and people have been, lost in the system for months so the meter is still in the name of a lady who lives on the other side of the Central Valley who would need to present herself at the office in order to authorise the issue of the paper.

The other meter services the new house – finally approaching completion.
This is in the name of my husband…..not our company.

One of the kindly ladies found us in the computer…and issued us with what looked like a bus ticket marked with all the details and duly enveloped in sellotape.
In my husband’s name, of course.

On Monday we shall – together – return to Tributation and attempt to pass through the portal.

Potential problems:

A. I opened the portal in my name as I had done the declarations on EDDI.

But –

My name is not on the sellotaped bus ticket.

Still –

My husband’s name is on the company registration certificate:

But –
The said certificate was issued more than thirty days ago – so we might have to belt down to the Registro Nacional and pay for a new one….

And then we might have to open a new portal in his name in order to pay our taxes.

B. Our I.D. on the company certificate is given as a British passport number….while the number on the bus ticket is that of my husband’s local I.D…..
So it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the identity will not be recognised.

In which case, unless we can sort it out before November 30th – effectively during the week to come – we will be unable to make a declaration and thus become liable to a fine of some two million colones.

Now, while I am sure it will all be sorted out – Costa Rican officials being past masters at navigating the shoals of their own bureaucracy – it is the possibility of it not being sorted out which gives rise to sleepless nights.

And all because they made away with EDDI.