The magic of the Costa Rican lifestyle is being discovered by people from all over the world, recent graduates, retirees, and families included. The laid back lifestyle found here is desired by many, but possibly even more desirable are the tax advantages of living here.
Here only those earnings made by an individual within Costa Rica are subject to taxes. This means income taxes concern only those who have a job or business in the country. Please note, that a vacation home rental is considered a business and will be prone to taxation. Pensioners, social security collectors, freelancers, telecommunicators, and online business owners all have the advantage of not having to pay taxes on their income. Those individuals working in Costa Rica must pay a 15% progressive tax based on their monthly earnings. The tax is levied on both employment source income and non-employment source income. For self employed parties the taxes are anywhere between 10 and 25%.
Business’s income tax is determined on the difference between the gross income and allowable deductions. For businesses making under $25,000 the rate is 10%, under 50,000 is 20%, and more than 50,000 is 30%. Businesses in free trade areas are exempt from paying taxes.
When a property is purchased there is a 1.5% transfer tax on the value of real estate purchased, typically paid by the purchaser. This tax must be paid at any point where the property is transferred to a new owner. Sales tax is 13% and is levied both at importation and at the sale. It is levied on all goods with the exception of food products, medical products, and a number of other items. Sales tax must be collected by all business owners from their customers and transferred to the government.
In Costa Rica investors are exempt from paying capital gains taxes on real estate investments. Costa Rica has the maximum tax rate set around 30 percent with no city or state taxes and low property taxes.
When to Pay?
Taxes are assessed provisionally based on the previous year’s results and payable each quarter. The fiscal year runs from Oct 1 to September 30th of the next year. The balance of due taxes is then payable on December 31st.
While Costa Rica has excellent tax regulations in place, US citizens are required to pay income taxes wherever they are living. US income tax returns must be filed yearly through the American Embassy. All income earned abroad must be declared, but you can claim a tax exemption up to $78,000 on foreign-earned gross income. Married couples can claim up to $144,000 of foreign income, but you cannot combine the two exemptions. While this may be a downer, the US gives all citizens living abroad a 2 month extension to file their taxes. Be sure to contact your account for further information and help in ensuring you file your taxes properly.