President Laura Chinchilla announced Tuesday that Costa Rica would create a new tax fraud unit in light of an ongoing scandal involving top tax and finance officials and unpaid taxes. Chinchilla also issued a directive to restrict settlements in tax evasion cases.
Chinchilla said that “Costa Rica has been taking steps in the right direction to improve tax collection,” and “not only have we implemented modern management models, but also we have proposed major changes to tax laws and procedures, with a clear conviction and commitment by this administration to improve public finances and with a desire to correct the structural failure of our tax system.”
The new tax fraud unit, which will be housed under the Tax Administration, will provide resources to attract an elite group of auditors who will be tasked with investigating the most damaging fraud cases. Members of the unit will be “people skilled in [tax] issues and with backgrounds in science and technology, and public and private sectors,” Chinchilla said in a press release.
Through March of this year, a total of 78 criminal tax fraud cases were filed. But of those cases, only one has made it to trial, and 29 complaints were withdrawn or dismissed, according to government records.