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Finance Ministry launches campaign to identify tax dodgers

September 22, 2015

The Finance Ministry’s Tax Administration this week launched a new plan aimed at curbing tax evasion, mostly targeting self-employed professionals.

Ministry officials began sending email notifications asking people to review their tax returns, and if necessary, make all required corrections.

Messages are being sent to owners of high-value properties or those who have recently purchased luxury vehicles but submitted tax returns reporting low income, which exempts them from paying income tax.

The messages also are being sent to people whose filings in two or more years included high expenses but low income.

Tax Administration officials reported that last year they had identified certain strategies people have used to avoid paying taxes, such as including expenses from relatives, expenses from domestic workers’ wages or for employee Christmas and birthday parties. Also found were invoices from grocery shopping, children’s school tuition and other personal expenses. Just from these tricks alone, the Tax Administration said they had uncovered $296,000 in unpaid taxes last year.

“Some people included loan payments or reported the purchase of homes, properties and vehicles whose prices were completely out of the income levels reported in their tax returns,” Tax Administration Director Carlos Vargas said. “These fraudulent tactics will be carefully evaluated as we currently consider all available options to prosecute people who use them.”

Finance Vice Minister Fernando Rodríguez said officials will continue their investigations across the country for the remainder of the year and will increase vigilance of certain types of businesses during periods of increased activity, such as on Black Friday, Christmas and New Year.

Plans for next year include hiring a company to provide officials with databases for the cross-referencing of potential tax evaders, he said.

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