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Costa Rica – Taxation

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America with a growing economy. The taxation system in Costa Rica is relatively straightforward, with a progressive tax rate system that applies to both individuals and companies. In this article, we will examine how the taxation system works in Costa Rica, double taxation agreements, the main taxes that expats need to be aware of, special tax breaks for expats, how to file a tax return in Costa Rica as an expat, and tax exit procedures for anyone leaving Costa Rica to move abroad.

The Taxation System in Costa Rica

The taxation system in Costa Rica is based on a territorial income tax system. This means that individuals and companies are taxed only on income earned within the country’s borders. The tax system in Costa Rica is progressive, which means that the tax rate increases as income increases.

Personal Income Tax

Personal income tax in Costa Rica is based on a progressive tax rate system. The tax rates range from 0% to 25%, depending on the level of income earned. There are also deductions and exemptions available to individuals, which can reduce their taxable income.

Corporate Income Tax

Corporate income tax in Costa Rica is also based on a progressive tax rate system. The standard tax rate is 30%, but there are also lower rates available for small and medium-sized enterprises.


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Value Added Tax (VAT)

The Value Added Tax (VAT) in Costa Rica is a tax that is applied to most goods and services. The standard rate is 13%, but there are also reduced rates of 4%, 2%, and 1% for certain goods and services.

Double Taxation Agreements

Costa Rica has signed double taxation agreements with several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. These agreements aim to avoid double taxation of income earned in one country by a resident of another country. The agreements generally provide rules for determining which country has the right to tax the income and the tax rate that should be applied. The agreements also provide mechanisms for resolving disputes between the two countries.

Main Taxes in Costa Rica

As an expat in Costa Rica, you will be subject to several taxes. The main taxes that expats need to be aware of include:

Personal Income Tax

As an expat in Costa Rica, you will be required to pay personal income tax on your income earned within the country’s borders. The tax rates range from 0% to 25%, depending on the level of income earned.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

As an expat in Costa Rica, you will also be subject to the Value Added Tax (VAT) on most goods and services that you purchase. The standard rate is 13%, but there are also reduced rates of 4%, 2%, and 1% for certain goods and services.

Special Tax Breaks for Expats

As an expat in Costa Rica, there are several special tax breaks that you may be eligible for, including:

Foreign Tax Credit

If you are a resident of Costa Rica and you have paid taxes in another country, you may be eligible for a foreign tax credit. This credit can be used to offset your Costa Rican tax liability.

Tax Treaty Relief

Costa Rica has signed tax treaties with several countries that provide relief from double taxation. If you are a resident of one of these countries, you may be eligible for relief from Costa Rican tax on income earned within the country’s borders.

How and when to file a tax return in Costa Rica as an expat

As an expat in Costa Rica, you will be required to file a tax return if you have income earned within the country’s borders. The deadline for filing your tax return is typically March 15th of the following year.

To file your tax return, you will need to gather all your income documents, such as payslips and investment statements. You can file your tax return online using the Tax Administration website, or by paper.

It is important to note that expats may need to register with the Tax Administration and obtain a tax identification number (TIN) before they can file their tax returns. Failure to comply with tax obligations in Costa Rica can result in penalties, fines, and even deportation.

Tax Exit Procedures for Costa Rica

If you are leaving Costa Rica to move abroad, you must inform the Tax Administration of your departure and settle any outstanding taxes before leaving the country. You will need to file a tax return for the year up until your departure date. The tax return will cover your income up until the day you leave Costa Rica.

The tax return is used to determine if you owe any taxes before leaving the country. If you have any tax liabilities, you will need to pay them before leaving Costa Rica. You may also be required to pay a tax on certain property that you own in the country, such as real estate.

In addition to filing a tax return, you should also inform your financial institutions, such as banks and investment companies, of your departure. This will ensure that they are aware of your new residency status and can adjust any taxes or fees accordingly.

The taxation system in Costa Rica is relatively straightforward, with a territorial income tax system that applies to both individuals and companies. As an expat in Costa Rica, you will be subject to several taxes, including personal income tax and VAT. However, there are also special tax breaks that you may be eligible for, such as the foreign tax credit and tax treaty relief. It is important to understand your tax obligations in Costa Rica and to file your tax return on time. If you are leaving Costa Rica to move abroad, you must inform the Tax Administration and file a tax return to ensure that you have met all your tax obligations before leaving the country.


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