On August 31, by Vote N° 12496-16, the Constitutional Chamber declared the Tax Code’s Article 144 unconstitutional.
This Constitutional Chamber’s ruling is historic in terms of defending taxpayers’ rights and in setting a brake on the Tax Administration’s power.
In 2014, taxpayer petitioners in Costa Rica challenged the constitutionality of the Tax Code’s Article 144. Article 144 of the CNPT stipulates that once the Tax Authority has determined the tax amount, the taxpayer must either pay this amount or provide a bank guarantee; including those cases where there is a dispute about the amount. Before the 2012 amendment, taxpayers had to pay as soon as the Administrative Tax Court had ruled that the Tax Authority’s requested amount was acceptable - a process that could take up to five years. Taxpayer petitioners argued that the dispute process prior to Article 144’s enforcement maintained a careful balance between the Tax Authority’s discretionary decisions and tax payers’ rights.
Now, it is expected that the government will pass a draft bill to Congress to correct the administrative procedure that allows the Tax Authorities to determine and issue tax amounts as a result of a tax audit. After which, Congress must approve this bill.
Costa Rica prides itself on maintaining rule of law principles; and, equally, as part of its Rule of Law Initiative and by applying all the available administrative and judicial measures, Arias & Muñoz prides itself on supporting taxpayers both to present their cases to the appropriate authorities and to protect them from unfair Tax Authority practices.