San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The U.S. Taxman Cometh

You can’t hide, not even in the jungle. The U.S. government wants its cut, and the April 15 deadline is creeping ever closer. This year, however, instead of extending its clammy hand palm up, the IRS may be holding out a check.

The U.S. Congress is rushing through a stimulus package designed to get the sluggish economy moving, and part of that package is $167 billion in tax rebates. That means a check of between $300 and $600 for many U.S. taxpayers.

“The most important thing this year is the economic stimulus package,” said Norman Barr, an “enrolled agent” (or certified tax preparer) with the company U.S. Tax Specialists, in Costa Rica.

Barr said the important thing to qualify for those checks this year is to file a tax return, even if you’re a retiree and you don’t owe on your social security check.

Barr and other tax preparers working in Costa Rica said their schedules are jampacked as U.S. citizens scramble to meet the legendary deadline.

Barr pointed out, however, that in many cases foreigners who don’t own anything or are expecting a return can file with the IRS two months past the deadline because of their off-shore status.

Off-shore taxpayers who do owe money aren’t off the hook, but they can file for an extension of the deadline to October 15, Barr said.


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