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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Costa Rica Tax Law: Corporations with No Lucrative Activity Must File a Tax Return

In Costa Rica laws are recognized by their number, their date of issue and their name. Law No. 10160 was issued on march 11th 2022 and is called “The Law to Simplify Tax Issues for Corporations with no lucrative activity”.

This law recognizes the reality that many people have assets, real estate, vehicles and others in the name of corporations whose sole purpose is that of holding those assets. The reasons are many: some people do not want to hold assets in their personal name or the asset may belong to a group or many other reasons.

On the other hand, the government is trying to control the amount of money laundering, contraband and other illegal activities which are financed in large part through these corporations that have no activity. The legal and tax issue is the following:

If the corporation has no income because it has no activity, then where did it get the funds to acquire the asset, which will usually be rather valuable considering the owners are willing to expend all the costs which are presently involved in keeping a corporation.

A very small portion of these corporately held assets can be explained as inheritances or divorce agreements but the majority are assets that have been purchased.

The importance of this law is that the state recognizes that people buy assets with their personal income and place them in a corporate structure. This creates an interesting dilemma. In the case a person needs to sue another individual and the potential defendant has his/her assets in a corporation, then how does the potential plaintiff get to attach those assets.

It is what is called “piercing the corporate veil”. One of the major reasons a person might put his house in a corporation and his car in another corporation is precisely to protect his house from any legal liabilities that may arise from the use of the car. But that is a subject for another time.

For these reasons, the state has established this law which requires those holding corporations with no economic activity to file an income tax return (which seems to be a contradiction since the company has no activity).

This law (No. 10160) is very small, it simply states that, among other details, corporations which have no activity are also subject to the income tax law, which in turn means they have to file a return. The law indicates that inactive corporations are only under the obligation to supply the tax authorities with a summary of the company changes in assets, liabilities and capital. It states that this should be in a summarized and simple way. If there have been no changes within the company, then you need only confirm that fact.

The form for filing this return is No. D- 101. The term for filing these returns had expired on June 11th, but because of the hacking of some of the Treasury Department´s systems, that term had been extended until August 16th. Now, the tax authorities indicate on their webpage (https://www.hacienda.go.cr/) that the term for filing is again extended until November 15th, 2022.

That extension the webpage indicates will be done through a formal Resolution No. DGT-R-21-2022 which is the process of being published in the national official newspaper (La Gaceta).

About Attorney Jorge Montero

Lic. Jorge Montero B. is a bicultural lawyer born in New York City, educated in the U.S.A. and in Costa Rica.

He holds various specialties and master’s degrees in Criminal, Commercial, Environmental and Agrarian Law from the University of Costa Rica and has over 30 years of litigation, contract and counsel experience.

He would love to hear your comments and questions about corporate tax returns in Costa Rica. You can reach attorney Jorge Montero at [email protected] or Call / WhatsApp: 506 – 8384 – 2246

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