The Finance Ministry last week launched a public awareness campaign to encourage tourists and citizens to report hotels, restaurants and other businesses that fail to issue receipts for products or services.
The campaign uses mass media and social networks in an effort to improve taxpayer compliance with laws, with support from customers.
Finance Minister Helio Fallas said the campaign is part of a short-term strategy to improve the filing and payment of sales tax, especially during mid-year vacations when the country sees an increase in tourism and spending on entertainment and commerce.
Vice Minister Fernando Rodríguez said the success of the campaign would depend on support from citizens. The Tax Administration will primarily address complaints it receives from the public and from tourists, at their offices and by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The public also can file complaints on the administration’s social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter, or via the “Denuncias” (“Complaints”) link on the ministry’s website, www.hacienda.go.cr.
Rodríguez said the campaign will continue through the end of the year, with renewed attention during important holidays, such as Mother’s Day (Aug. 15), Children’s Day (Sept. 9), Christmas and New Year.
He called on the public and visiting tourists to report businesses that fail to issue receipts from products or services provided. Those businesses could be sanctioned and even closed, he said.
Fallas also said he asked the stated-owned Internet and telecommunications provider Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. (RACSA) to move forward with a technology platform that is required to implement electronic invoicing, starting next year.
An electronic invoice is a digital document with the same value as a printed one. Customers receive the invoice in an email similar to those from public utilities. It includes a file used by the Tax Administration for oversight and one that allows customers to print a receipt.
The system already has been used in a limited number of businesses in the country since April 2012. At the time, then-President Laura Chinchilla announced its implementation “soon will be mandatory.” But the project was never fully implemented during her administration, from 2010-2014.
President Luis Guillermo Solís is seeking to make its use mandatory starting in 2015. But Fallas said the government does not have the appropriate infrastructure or technology to make use of the information generated by the new invoicing system.
The information generated by electronic invoices will be used to cross-check data at public agencies and to combat tax evasion.
“We currently are in conversations with RACSA, and we are updating the ministry’s Informatics Department,” Fallas said. “We also are providing training to our programmers and asking for an equipment upgrade to move faster in the implementation of the system.”