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Restaurant owners say 2 percent bank charge on credit, debit transactions could cause problems

October 8, 2014

Representatives of the Costa Rican Restaurants Chamber (CACORE) warned this week that restaurant owners could face liquidity problems from a 2 percent charge that banks will assess on all dining payments made with credit and debit cards.

The measure was prompted in August by a Tax Administration decree and takes effect this month. According to the decree, banks will withhold 2 percent of credit and debit card payments from restaurants as an advance on income tax payments. CACORE criticized the plan during its annual congress of 225 representatives from the sector, who met this week.

Chamber executive director Alejandro Madrigal Ramírez on Tuesday said they had requested a meeting with Finance Vice Minister Fernando Rodríguez, and the two sides could begin discussions as early as next week.

Tax Administration General Director Carlos Vargas in August said the measure has two goals: To collect advanced income tax payments and to track all payments made with credit and debit cards in the country.

CACORE’s congress also held forums to discuss other challenges, including high levels of competition. According to Health Ministry records, more than 20,000 food and beverage businesses operate in Costa Rica.

Competition has led to some 1,900 layoffs in the sector this year, but congress attendees said they did not expect more firings for the rest of 2014.

Restaurant owners also complained about excessive red tape at public agencies – particularly at municipalities – and dry laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol during certain holidays.

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