INFOGRAPHIC: Unity candidates owe more back taxes than any other party

April 8, 2014

The Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) and the Workers’ Party (PT) don’t have a lot in common, besides owing more back taxes than any other political party.

PUSC candidates running for president, vice president and the Legislative Assembly were in arrears to the tune of $207,035. That’s 70 percent more money in back taxes than the combined $60,753.28 from the candidates of the remaining four major political parties: National Liberation Party (PLN), Libertarian Movement Party (ML), Citizen Action Party (PAC), and Broad Front Party (FA).

The left-leaning FA owed the least amount– $3,015 – followed by the PLN with $12,287, PAC with $13,844, and the Libertarian Movement Party with $31,607.

Estimates for taxes owed were based on reporting done by the daily La Nación’s investigative unit as presented in its voter guide, #NoVotoACiegas, or “I don’t blindly vote.” The newspaper collected tax information from 32 difficult public sources.

La Nación ran its own story based on these data but did not provide a breakdown of back taxes by political party.

Presidential candidate Otto Guevara of ML reportedly owed nearly $5,900 in corporate taxes, some of which he paid on Jan. 15 after La Nación confronted him. PUSC candidate Rodolfo Piza owed $2,300 in back corporate taxes. PAC’s Luis Guillermo Solís owed $140, but reportedly paid it after La Nación asked him for comment.

The PLN’s candidates owed more than any other party to the Social Development and Family Assistance Fund, FODESAF – $7,571 – one of the government agencies that candidate Johnny Araya proposed using to fund his food stamp program for Costa Ricans living in extreme poverty.

The Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja) was one of the institutions owed the most money from political aspirants this election, at an estimated $128,857. The PT’s candidates owed 34 percent of that, followed by PUSC with 16 percent of the outstanding candidate debt to the Caja.

Nearly half of all these taxes due were destined for the Caja.

Debts to the failed Banco Anglo accounted for large amounts of both the PUSC and PT’s delinquent taxes, but even after removing those debts candidates from both parties were still behind on more taxes than other political parties.

The state-owned Banco Anglo closed in bankruptcy in 1994 following a botched foreign debt investment worth nearly $100 million – one of the biggest scandals in modern Costa Rican history. Twenty years later, Banco Popular still holds much of that debt portfolio. La Nación’s investigative team, headed by pioneer data journalist Giannina Segnini – who covered the Banco Anglo story 20 years ago – was able to obtain the data because banking secrecy laws do not apply to the closed bank.

The small Workers’ Party owed some $148,683, the second highest total amount. PT candidate Freddy Gerardo Rodríguez Cordero owed $147,000 of that amount, including more than $45,000 to the Caja. Rodríguez told La Nación that he had no connection to the negligent company, Creaciones Australoamericanas S.A.

La Nación noted that several candidates listed as the presidents of corporations behind on their taxes denied owning the companies or claimed they had no control over their management.

Explore the data from La Nación broken down by political party and the type of taxes due.

Corey Kane contributed to this report

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