Salary Income Tax (SIT) and Social Security Charges (SSC)

1. SIT

Costa Rica had important tax amendments relating to different taxes as of 1 July 2019, such as the withholding of the salary income tax (SIT). In relation to SIT, it is important to note that the requirements of taxation have not changed, they are dependent on relationship and territory.

The brackets and rates (monthly) were set as follows (USD – may have variations based on the exchange rate differences):

Bracket   Rate
Up to 1.474 exempt
From 1.474 up to 2.159 10%
From 2.159 up to 3.795 15%
From 3.795 up to 7.574 20%
From 7.574 up to No limit 25%

The employee can deduct from the tax due $2.75 for each child and $4.13 for their spouse.

The calculation, filing of the tax return and payment (previous withholding to the employee) of the SIT must be carried out by the employer.

Likewise, if the employee is under a dependent relationship of the foreign parent company or subsidiary in CR, from the first day of rendering services for the CR entity the Tax Administration will consider the employee to be a tax resident and therefore subject to SIT and SSC.

2. SSC

As of January 2020, the employee must pay from its gross income an amount of 10.50% (the % was increased by 0.16%). The employer should withhold the amount and pay it to the Social Security Institute. The employer must pay the amount of 26.5% (employer contribution) calculated over the total of the payroll.

The social charges paid by the employer are deemed to be deductible expenses in order to calculate the corporate income tax.

Some benefits as salary in kind (car or house lease, and per diem) should be assessed on a case by case basis so as to identify whether or not they are considered to be part of the salary in order to pay SSC.

According to the recent case law, some benefits in kind such as car lease housing, are not deemed to be salary as the benefits are given as an obligation in accordance with the labour code. It is strongly advisable to justify granting those benefits as a direct cost of the mobility.

Also, according to the labour code for the payments deemed to be salaries, the employer must pay Christmas bonus, severance, vacations and labour risks.