Costa Rica

Corporate - Group taxation

Last reviewed - 20 December 2019

There is no group taxation in Costa Rica.

Transfer pricing

According to the Code of Tax Rules and Procedures of Costa Rica (Law No. 4755), published on 3 May 1971, article 12 states that the agreements between individuals are not admissible against the Treasury regarding tax matters.

On 10 June 2003, Interpretive Guideline No. 20-03, called Tax Treatment of Transfer Prices, was approved. This Guideline established the application of the principle of arm's-length in transactions between related parties. It was basically based on the comparison of the conditions of a determined operation with those transactions carried out by independent companies (i.e. those prices must be equivalent or reasonable to the corresponding similar transactions made between independent companies).

This Guideline attributed to the Tax Administration the power to analyse the operations carried out between related parties when the agreed valuation determines a tax lower than that resulting from the application of the arm’s length, in which case, it must proceed to practice the relevant adjustments.

By 10 September 2012, through Law No. 9069, Article 12 of the Code of Tax Rules and Procedures was modified, establishing that the elements of the tax obligation, such as the definition of taxpayer, taxable event, and others, may not be altered by acts or agreements of individuals, which will not produce effects before the Administration, without prejudice to their legal-private consequences. However, none of the laws indicated above covered essential aspects of the application of transfer pricing, such as:

  • Application of transfer pricing standards
  • Applicable analysis methods
  • OECD Guidelines, and
  • Advance pricing agreements (APAs).

On 13 September 2013, the Ministry of Finance issued the General Decree No. 37898-H to control the operations carried out between related parties with the objective of regulating the provisions related to the application of Guideline 20-03.

With the issuance of this Decree, taxpayers were forced to evaluate the prices agreed upon in operations involving goods or services sold to local or foreign related parties, considering the prices that would have been agreed upon between independent parties in accordance with the arm’s-length standard. This decree reaches any operation or transaction carried out by companies resident in the country with:

  • local and foreign related parties
  • individuals or companies resident or domiciled in jurisdictions of lower taxation or in tax havens, and
  • related parties benefiting from the Free Zones Regime.

On 13 September 2016, in the official newspaper La Gaceta, No. 182, the Resolution DGT-R-44-2016, corresponding to the Informative Return of Transfer Pricing, was published. In this regard, taxpayers must submit their transfer pricing statement on the last business day of the month of June of each year and include all operations carried out during the fiscal period of the taxpayer. However, in Resolution DGT-R-28-2017, the Tax Administration suspended this requirement, and so far, it has not been defined when it should be submitted.

On 21 April 2017, the official newspaper La Gaceta, No. 75, Resolution DGT-R-16-2017, corresponding to the transfer pricing documentation, was published. This document indicates that the information must be available to the Tax Administration to be provided upon request.

Resolution DGT-R-001-2018, of 11 January 2018, established the obligation to file the country-by-country (CbC) report, to all the parent companies residing in the country, where their global income amounts to more than 750 million euros (EUR). The taxpayers to whom said requirement applied had to submit the first declaration no later than 31 December 2018, for the transactions corresponding to the 2017 period.

In 2019, the regulation regarding transfer pricing suffered a transformation, when, on 4 December 2019, in the official newspaper La Gaceta, No. 202, it was published the Public Finance Enhancement Law, Law No. 9635, which added a Chapter XXXl, that incorporates a new article 81 bis to the Title V of the General Dispositions, of the Income Tax Law, Law No. 7092. After it, on 26 June 2019, it was published in the official newspaper La Gaceta, No. 145 the Executive Decree No.41818-H, called “Modifications and additions to the Bylaws of the Income Tax Law, Executive Decree No. 18445-H, from 9 September 1988 and its reforms”. Within this new Decree it was regulated the transfer pricing practice described in the above-mentioned article 81 bis, derogating the previous Executive Decree No. 37898-H.

On 13 November 2019, the General Tax Directorate published the Resolution DGT-R-49-2019, where there are established the new requirements for the documentation in regards to transfer pricing; derogating in the act, the Resolution DGT-R-16-2017. As a brief resume, the resolution confirms that the taxpayers that perform operations with related parties must keep for the lapse mentioned on the article 109 of the Tax Code, the documentation that supports the transactions between related parties and the compliance of the transfer pricing regulations that show they match the transactions between independent parties. In this sense, the information must be available for the Tax Administration upon request.

Thin capitalisation

The new Law does not establish thin capitalisation rules in the strict sense, only the 20% limit on the deduction of non-bank interest mentioned under Interest expenses in the Deductions section.

Controlled foreign companies (CFCs)

In Costa Rican legislation, there is no mention of CFC rules.