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Costa Rica: Free trade zone companies not exempt stamp tax

Costa Rica: Free trade zone companies, stamp tax

Guidance from the tax administration clarifies that companies within a free trade zone are not exempt from paying the education and culture stamp tax.


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The guidance—DGT-1160-2018—clarifies that free trade zone (zona franca) companies must pay the stamp tax (referred to as “TEC” for Timbre de Educación y Cultura). Before this guidance, free trade zone companies did not pay the stamp tax because the TEC was viewed as being a tax on capital. However, the new guidance indicates that the TEC has as its object “education and culture,” and that it is to be paid by an entity that has registered (or registers) documents before the National Registry. 

The TEC is an annual tax that is paid during the months of February and March. The amount of the TEC is generally viewed as being insignificant, but nonpayment could be subject to penalties and could further result in the company being listed on a tax debtors database (that could harm the company’s reputation).


Read an October 2018 report (Spanish and English) [PDF 107 KB] prepared by the KPMG member firm in Costa Rica

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