Guys in the Zone heresay service: I thought that I’d behave like a blogger this morning and so I cruised the Costa Rica news & real estate blogs. The following are my findings along with some current gossip:
The PRETOMA (Programa Restauracion de Tortugas Marinas) website
The US Department of State`s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science imposed a trade embargo on all Costa Rican shrimp exports to the US, effective as of May 1. The embargo is due to Costa Rica’s failure to enforce its laws that require commercial shrimp fishers to protect sea turtles from capture and death in trawl nets by using Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs).
And then a little commentary on the matter from Globalpost:
It’s not the first time that the United States, Costa Rica’s chief shrimp buyer (shrimp exports to the U.S. grossed $2.8 million in 2007), has put a trade embargo on Tico shrimp. The ban has been imposed four times since 1999, in an attempt to penalize this country’s shrimping habits.
Fishers are netting shrimp illegally near river heads and protected marine areas in the Pacific, and aren’t using technology designed to prevent turtles from drowning in trawl nets, according to PRETOMA.
The article included statements that the biggest hit here is to Costa Rica’s “Green” reputation. Costa Rica is apparently allowing shrimp harvesting in such a way that endangers the marine turtles — the green sea turtle, the olive ridley, hawksbill and leatherback. So the U.S. is wielding its influence, and for those of us that like the idea of preserving the earth’s natural resources, this is good news.
Yesterday I was talking with Chef Dave from La Cusinga. He’s doing some pretty interesting things here, one of which is cooking up a culinary experience at the La Cusinga restaurant which is called The Gecko. I haven’t tried it yet, but for those that have, they say that it is nothing short of divine.
Anyway, it turns out that Chef Dave is a bit of a writer, and that he is interested in a lot of the things that I like writing about as well. He’s started his own blog over at Chef of the Jungle. He is the one that had originally told me about the U. S. ban on Costa Rica shrimp imports to the U. S. (You can read his commentary on the matter by clicking here). That is indicative of the topics found in his blog. Here is a clip from his website:
I am here to offer my impressions, opinions and observations about not just my life here as a Chef, but more, about the state of the culinary nation in Costa Rica. I will visit ferias (farmer’s markets), fincas (farms), and small independent growers; I will go to the beaches and (boats) and talk with the fishermen and I will report on how Costa Rica’s food culture is being affected by tourism, the expat influx and by the modernity of food marketing.
Thanks to our shared interests, Chef Dave and I are talking about working together on a number of projects having to do with grass roots issues of living and working in Costa Rica.
There has been a lot of talk around here lately about a recent raid done in Ojochal by the U. S. IRS. Its hard to know what exactly happened, but I will report what I have heard, and you can sift through it as I have had to do.
The first thing that I heard was that the U. S. IRS and Costa Rica Immigration teamed up to do a random raid of Ojochal and in the process located some expats that were in serious arrears with their US taxes. These folks were then carted off to the states where they are sitting in jail. Immigration reportedly used the opportunity to check residency status on various ones and found a dozen or so that were working here illegally. These folks were cited, or deported. That was version one.
Version Two tempered version one a bit, and I suspect is a little bit closer to the truth. Here’s how version two reads. The IRS were on the trail of some particularly egregious tax evaders and their search led them to Ojochal where they then found the people, reportedly a couple, and took them back to the States where they are awaiting whatever such ones await for. The Immigration details on version two run concurrent with version one.
Addtional detail possibilities:
The IRS was unable to walk onto the private property of the offending couple, and so they feigned a car breakdown at the edge of the couple’s property, who responded by assisting, and in so doing stepped off of the private land, where they were nabbed.
One of the variations claims that the couple has a child that was put into Costa Rican child custody care services.
The effect of all this is that some of the expats in the Ojochal area are concerned about working here without a work visa, and so are lying low for the time being.
Living as an expat in Costa Rica, and I would guess in any foreign land, has its share of interesting concerns that are totally avoided by staying put in one’s home land. I feel like I spend a pretty good amount of my time trying to figure out if I’m really, as I think, up to date with my U.S. & Costa Rica taxes.
I feel like I need to put disclaimers all over this type of post. I don’t in anyway represent myself as being an authority on Costa Rica law, nor taxes. Having said that: we expats have an $84,000 tax credit due to living in a foreign land. The U. S. allows us to make $84,000, foreign and domestic earned income without having to pay taxes. We don’t use the roads, police, libraries and so on in the U. S. and so we don’t pay any taxes until we have an income of $84,001, where taxation begins at the rate of having earned exactly that much. In other words, we start paying taxes on $84,001, not on just the first dollar above the credit limit.
We only get this credit if we file. So it is an extremely good practice to file U. S. taxes just like everybody else. If we fail to, and the day arrives for one reason or another to have to pay the piper, we don’t get our expat credit.
This point, along with trying to understand how taxes work in Costa Rica, gets my head a’spinning.
I have heard some street talk that the Obama administration may be considering eliminating the expat tax credit. I don’t have any idea if that’s true or not, but that’s what I heard. If this were to happen, we would be paying double taxation which I calculate to be somewhere around 60%.
A slight departure from the normal Costa Rica real estate fare, but these are issues that make up daily street talk around the zone.