—Vida y tiempo—
When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly news letter -determined to tell all the good, bad, and the ugly. I knew some readers would be interested in the construction process. I expected others might be interested in the lifestyle of two people who had decided to live outside the box. For others, the adventures of Lita, the parrot and the cat took on an entertainment saga all its own.
Residencias Los Jardines is finished. We periodically have resales and rental availability. Some readers may be interested in this information.
Featured house this week
Paradisus Condos / Rorhmoser
Paradisus will consist of 4 towers in Rorhmoser, a suburb to the west of central San Jose. Not far from the US Embassy and shopping malls, Rorhmoser is a residential area that was developed in the 60's and 70's and is currently seeing significant re-development with high end condos. It is the area where the new stadium and a number of luxury high rise condos have recently been built with more on the drawing boards. Phase one of this development is nearing completion; it consists of two towers and the amenities -pool, exercise room, etc. Tower one is expected to be completed in January and Tower 2 should follow in February / March. The location of this development is superb... it's off the main traffic paths and sits on a ravine overlooking a river. To the east is San Jose / Heredia; to the west is Pavas / Escazu. With floor to ceiling windows and a wrap around balcony, these units offer fantastic light and views.
Each of the units consists of two bedrooms / two bathrooms, and a large living/dining/kitchen area. The floor plan of each of these units has eliminated the optional "den / office" divider. The result is a larger area offering more flexible furniture arrangements while still maintaining the option of including an office area. At 105m2 plus two parking spots each and storage locker, they offer a great opportunity for someone seeking views, security, central location, and first class, all round living...
Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales
Sales: no calls.
Rentals: one call / no product.
Unit #114: $235,000 / See Unit
HOUSE FOR SALE
FOR SALE $235,000
Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Floor(s): Single Floor
This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.
WEATHER: October weather continues to be normal... beautiful sunny mornings, with clouding around mid day, followed by a shower and then clearing. So far, we have not, in this area, had torrential rain storms...
All in a Week's Living in CR:
Horseradish: Again, I became motivated to have reliable tender, juicy, flavorful steak... so it was back to Belca, the restaurant food purveyor used by many top notch restaurants. I usually go with a 2nd party because we have to buy a whole slab of frozen meat... in this case it was USDA "Choice" rib eye... and baby back pork ribs... the beef was C11,542 kilo + 13% tax ($26.35) or $12.00 lb. and the pork ribs were C5642 kl + 13% tax or ($12.88 kl) or $5.85 lb. We take the frozen slab to a local butcher and have him saw it into the desired thickness, divide them up, freezer pack them and have a glass of wine in anticipation of future great meals. While not cheap, we are at least guaranteed a great meal at less than half the price of an equivalent in a restaurant without the night driving and probable disappointment.
In this particular trip, the other person wanted horseradish. Finding horse radish has always been a hit and miss affair here... sometimes they have it, sometimes only in a creamed form, or you have to go to a specialty store and pay a lot for a little. Of course we had no idea of the Spanish ( I now know it to be "salsa rabano picante") so what to do. My unabashed companion acted it out... after the audience picked themselves up from rolling around on the floor in gales of laughture, out comes a large bottle ($7.95) of just what we wanted--my companion had made their day... they were still laughing when we left.
News Items of the Week
1. Nicaragua vs. CR: There seems to be little dispute that CRs allegations have merit and the defense given by Nicaragua is laughable. Having said that, it was pointed out to me that it is typical of the culture when someone gets caught red handed--blame the other guy and claim ignorance.
2. Part time employment and Employer Tax Issues... eg maids: The definition of employee is much broader in CR than in the N. Am. I'm familiar with and many can get caught off guard. Note all the taxes which when aggregated work out to an additional 45%... so that $4 per hour maid is now $6 per hour... still inexpensive by N. Am. standards but substantially more than what some employers expected.
3. New Tax Proposals: the government is floating a laundry list of possible taxes. Fortunately, the current government will not be around to see this process through.
4. SETENA: this is not news but a continuing comment on the government... some things never change.
5. Gas Prices: this isn't news either. One could think that with so many taxes that we would have safe bridges and good roads... I don't see any improvement in the past 12 years...
1. Air photo is key evidence supporting Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
An air photo taken Oct. 5 became key evidence Wednesday when lawyers for Costa Rica had a second day to outline their case against the canals Nicaragua has constructed on Costa Rican territory.
The air photo clearly shows a canal being lengthened near the Caribbean and a camp that appears occupied by Nicaraguan military.
Tuesday Nicaragua said that President Daniel Ortega knew nothing about the project and that the person responsible for the canal was Edén Pastora, the former Contra leader who is now an ally and in charge of dredging the Río San Juan.
James Crawford, Costa Rica's lawyer and a professor, presented much of the case. He said that the Nicaragua explanations were not credible. The site was the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
Costa Rica is seeking an expanded ruling that would let workers enter the area and block the canals. The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto noted that Nicaragua has a second chance to make a presentation today and that the court probably will not issue a ruling for several weeks.
The court had ordered both countries to stay off the disputed territory while the case was being argued.
Costa Rica had the right to conduct some environmental salvage operations, but Nicaragua has had citizens and workers on the land for months.
Costa Rica had not been keeping a close eye on the area because officials were caught by surprise when they learned about the nearly completed canals in early September.
Crawford told the court that the excavations for the canal were clearly the results of a careful plan and Pastora did not simply lose his way and dredge and dig in disputed territory by accident. and decided to dig a hole for himself.
Costa Rica also noted that Nicaragua soldiers were on the site 15 days after Ortega was supposed to have ordered a halt to work there, as Nicaragua claimed.
Lawyers also said that the air photo shows clearly that the work is being done on the Isla Portillos, which is Costa Rican property.
The Nicaraguans are trying to open a deep access to the Río San Juan to bypass a winding river course that is heavily silted. That way shipping can have access. The area is being readied for tourism. The canals are expected to serve as guides for strong surges of the river water.
Original article: https://www.amcostarica.com/101713.htm
2. Part-timers with few jobs are employees automatically
By Garland M. Baker, Special to A.M. Costa Rica
What makes a service or independent worker an employee?
According to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, commonly known as the Caja, and the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, known as INS, the key element is the number of jobs.
Yes, if anyone is working, regardless at what, and they only have one, two or three jobs, they are considered employees and should be covered as such by the people for whom they work, the agencies said Friday.
The labor law summarizes a worker by three criteria: 1) someone who personally provides labor or a service, 2) the person is paid, and 3) they are being directed by another and subordinate to them. However, one lawyer said the Sala II, the highest labor court of Costa Rica, has over 20 criteria including, but not limited to, how many jobs a person works.
This means that if an expat homeowner has a domestic or an outside maintenance worker coming to the house once or a few times a week and the employee only has a couple of these jobs, everyone hiring them should have them covered by the Caja for health insurance and INS for workers compensation.
Far too many expats, taking the example from their Tico friends, pay casual workers for professional services instead of having them on a payroll. The reason they do this is simple, it is cheaper. Many Costa Ricans set a very bad example to foreigners because they pay their domestic workers piecemeal and not at all as the law requires.
Here is the cost difference. Paying a domestic worker as a professional service person to come in and clean up the house five hours a week at 2,000 colons an hour is 10,000 colons a week or 520,000 colons ($1,050) a year. However, that same person on a payroll costs much more.
Here are the figures without going into nitty-gritty details. Once a person is an employee, an employer needs to pay 26.17 percent of the wages to the Caja for health insurance and an estimated 18,367 colons annually to INS for workers compensation.
This workers’ compensation number is only for domestic workers covered by RT-Hogar, a special workers’ compensation insurance for them and should not be confused with regular compensation rates which range between 1 and 7 percent of an employee’s annual wage. Employers are also required by law to escrow 5.33 percent of gross wages for severance benefits, 4.16 percent for vacations and 8.33 percent for a Christmas bonus. These additional amounts add up to an estimated 45 percent so the 2,000-colon-an-hour employee is really almost a 3,000-colon-an-hour worker. This translates into close to $500 more per year.
No wonder many try to cheat the system. However, cheating is even more expensive in the end. Workers claims to benefits never expire by statutes of limitation. Most claims for non-paid benefits have been upheld in Costa Rica’s constitution court. The worst nightmare is if the Caja gets its teeth into a collection action. The penalties and interest are severe.
Even if one is doing everything right, an employee can request an audit of his or her benefits. One expat with a yacht rental business had one employee question his retirement payments and get small increases three times over the course of 10 years. Needless to say, the expat always ended up paying more.
Some people like to pay as they go just because they do not like dealing with the Caja and INS. Their systems are not overly complex but when calling the institutions with questions, most find themselves in a bad dream. It is difficult for an educated person asking the right questions to get correct answers, imagine a less fortunate individual with no education.
One gardener questioned over the weekend said he was an independent worker and the Caja and INS covered him because workers’ compensation is included in his Caja policy. He said he was told this when he called to ask for clarification. A paralegal called the Caja to ask staffers if this was the case, and their answers were, “No, we have nothing to do with the INS.” The women on the phone kept insisting the paralegal come in for an interview regarding her questions because the institution’s policy is not to give out such information over the telephone. More information regarding insuring employees can be found in an article written Sept. 2.
When hiring anyone these are the questions one should ask:
1.) “How many people do you work for?” If the answer is three or less they are probably an employee.
2.) “Do you give invoices authorized by the tax authority, Dirección General de Tributación?” Ask to see one to see if it is authorized. Computerized invoices need to have this legend on them “AUTORIZATION POR RESOLUCION 11-97 12/08/97 DE LA DGTD (AUTHORIZED BY RESOLUTION 11-97 12/08/97 OF THE DGTD).”
3.) “Do you pay individual insurance?” Ask to see the receipts and check the coverage dates for both their health and workers’ compensation policies.
4.) Ask for references to check to see that in fact the prospective employee works for others and to check on the reputation. Expats should get at least five recommendations if the thought is to pay them as an independent contractor.
The bottom line, when in Costa Rica, do not do what many of the natives do. Pay workers according to the law. Set an example for the locals.
3. New taxes proposed to cut Chinchilla administration’s fiscal deficit
October 18th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) New taxes are part of a set of proposals to cut the fiscal deficit of the Chinchilla administration, according to the paper “On the Road to Fiscal Consolidation: Agenda for a National Dialogue,” presented by Finance Minister Edgar Ayales yesterday afternoon.
Ayales said the document would serve as the basis to discuss and agree on a solution to Costa Rica’s fiscal problem.
Ayales said the document represents an “inventory of options” including increasing government revenue through taxes and spending cuts.
The “inventory” includes new taxes on private healthcare and private education, a new Value Added Tax (VAT), changes in tax burdens on free trade zones, and more.
The Ministry of Finance (Hacienda) plans to hold five roundtables to address five core areas: fiscal governance; strengthening tax and customs enforcement; talks on the level and quality of public spending; borrowing and investment; and fiscal and environmental sustainability.
Ayales said the proposals could translate into legislative bills as soon as February.
4. Hundreds of construction projects stuck in SETENA backlogs
October 18th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Between 200 and 300 construction projects are stuck in the backlogs of the National Environmental Technical Services (SETENA), which has not even begun the inspection process on the projects, according to Jaime Molina, president of the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of Private Business (UCCAEP).
Molina said that the backlog is slowing growth and the national economy.
UCCAEP along with investors and individuals from the Chamber of Construction are now asking SETENA to request additional funding from Finance Minister, Edgar Ayales in order to increase its staff, but so far have yet to receive a response.
“This not only affects the owners of construction projects, but hundreds of workers across the country,” Randall Murillo, executive director of the Chamber of Construction said.
5. Country continues to have highest prices for gasoline
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Costa Rica continues to have the highest gasoline prices in Central America, according to a study reported by CentralAmericandata.com
Super gasoline was $5.38 a gallon during the week of Oct. 5 to 12, the business news service said. Nicaragua was second highest with a gallon price of $4.72. Prices ranged down to $3.94 in Panamá, said the Web site.
Plus gas in Costa Rica, called regular elsewhere, was $5.24 a gallon here and $4.51 in Nicaragua. Prices ranged down to $3.72 in Panamá.
Diesel, $ 4.85 in Costa Rica, ranged down to $ 3.71, again in Panamá.
Panamá had the highest liquid natural gas price at $3.03 a gallon. Costa Rica's price was $2.89.n
Brian, Lita, the Late Hugo IV, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, Chico II and Chica II