Finance

Best of Costa Rica on Mylifebook.me

All new posts will now be on the blog section of My Life Book. You can find it at http://www.mylifebook.me

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Fidelity Bans U.S. Investors Overseas From Buying Mutual Funds

Prohibition Applies to Both Fidelity and Non-Fidelity Mutual Funds

Updated July 1, 2014 7:07 p.m. ET
By LAURA SAUNDERS
Fidelity Investments and other asset managers are telling U.S. clients who live outside the country that they can no longer buy or trade mutual funds in their brokerage accounts.Stephen Austin, a spokesman for the financial-services firm, said the change, effective Aug. 1, was prompted by “today’s continually evolving global regulatory environment,” but he said it wasn’t in response to a specific issue.

The change will affect about 50,000 accounts, or less than 0.3% of Fidelity’s 20 million accounts, he said.

“Customers will not be forced to sell holdings simply because they live in a foreign country,” Mr. Austin said.

Observers said fund managers are becoming more conservative in the wake of global developments such as the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and other U.S. efforts.

Following large settlements paid to the U.S. by Credit Suisse Group AG CS +0.35% andBNP Paribas SA, BNP.FR -0.40% “Other countries are getting angry about the size of the fines and are grumbling about retaliation,” said Jonathan Lachowitz, a cross-border investment adviser based in Lexington, Mass., and Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mutual funds are regulated differently from other investments and could be a target, he said.

David Kuenzi, an investment manager in Madison, Wis., who works with Americans abroad, said that selling U.S. mutual funds to those investors had long been prohibited. “But it was matter of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Now the firms are getting more aggressive about compliance,” he said.

Other fund companies also are changing policies for investors who live abroad.

A spokesman for Putnam Investments said the firm is no longer accepting additional investments into existing accounts held by non-U.S. residents.

The spokesman said the changes were made “in accordance with U.S. anti-money-laundering and ‘Know Your Customer’ policies” and in response to recent tightening of European laws limiting sales of funds not registered in their jurisdictions.

A spokesman for Charles Schwab Corp. SCHW -0.33% said the firm “has made changes and will continue to make changes to our policies” in reaction to regulatory changes but declined to specify them.

In a recent letter to overseas clients, Fidelity said that its prohibition would apply to both Fidelity and non-Fidelity mutual funds, and to exchanges between funds.

However, account holders still will be permitted to reinvest dividends in additional shares of a fund.

Employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans aren’t affected by the prohibition, but individual retirement accounts and Roth IRAs are, the spokesman said.

The letter also said that if an investor has an automatic investment plan with periodic deposits of cash, then the additions can continue but the money won’t be invested in mutual funds. Instead, the funds will be added to the investor’s other “core position,” such as a money-market fund. The letter added that additions to such funds will still be permitted, but that this could change in the future.

The Fidelity spokesman said that account holders’ ability to purchase individual securities or exchange-traded funds varies from country to country.

A spokesman for the Investment Company Institute, a fund industry group, declined to comment.

A spokesman for Vanguard Group said its funds are typically only for sale to people who live in the U.S., although there are some exceptions for investors residing abroad, for example, some people with inherited accounts.

Write to Laura Saunders at laura.saunders@wsj.com

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FACTA July 1st Implementaion Starts With 30% Penalties for Banks

Costa Rica News – In 2013, 2,999 Americans renounced citizenship, the highest number on record. The four highest totals have all occurred since Fatca became law, though the exact reasons for renunciations aren’t reported.

fatca implementationThe Internal Revenue Service is about to get an unprecedented look at bank accounts and investments U.S. citizens hold abroad, through a law that is making it harder to hide assets from the tax collector.

Tomorrow, the U.S. government will start imposing 30 percent taxes on many overseas payments to financial institutions that don’t share information with the IRS.

That new burden has frustrated overseas banks and U.S. expatriates. It’s also created a new standard of global bank-to-government information sharing designed to throw light on often difficult-to-trace accounts.

No one knows yet how successful the law will be in combating tax evasion. Still, it allows the U.S. to scoop up data from more than 77,000 financial institutions and 80 governments about its citizens’ overseas financial activities.

“I don’t think anything on this scale has ever been tried before,” said John Harrington, a former international tax counsel at the Treasury Department who is now a partner at Dentons in Washington. “The idea that it would go off without a hitch is sort of hard to imagine.”

What led to the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, was the inability of federal tax authorities to obtain clear information about financial accounts that U.S. citizens have outside the country. That’s especially important for the U.S., because unlike many other countries, it taxes citizens on their worldwide income regardless of where they actually live.

‘Honor’ System
“If you had an account outside of the U.S., you were pretty much on your honor to disclose that information,” said Denise Hintzke, the global tax leader for Deloitte Tax LLP’s Fatca practice.
In establishing the law, Congress and President Barack Obama in effect threatened to cut off banks and other companies from easy access to the U.S. market if they didn’t pass along such information. The U.S. was able to leverage its status as a financial center to demand action from governments and banks in other countries.

The proposal was barely debated when Congress in 2010 passed it as a budgetary offset to a tax credit for hiring. It was projected to raise $8.7 billion in revenue over a decade.

Congress hasn’t addressed it since then, although the Republican National Committee voted earlier this year in favor of repeal.

Withholding Tax
Under Fatca, U.S. banks and other companies making certain cross-border payments — such as interest and dividends — to foreign financial institutions must withhold a 30 percent tax if the recipient isn’t providing information about its U.S. account holders.

Later phases of the law will apply to a broader set of cross-border payments, such as gross proceeds from stock sales. Many non-financial companies will be affected, too.

The law has been accompanied by a new set of regulations and definitions, creating a cottage industry of advisers and interpreters. It was supposed to start Jan. 1, 2013, which was put off until tomorrow to give taxpayers more time to comply.

Fatca prompted more than 77,000 financial institutions to register for the program to avoid the withholding tax. As a result of that compliance, the government doesn’t expect to collect much direct revenue from the 30 percent levy, said a senior Treasury official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning for Fatca.

Direct Disclosurefatca implementation 1
In most cases, the law isn’t being implemented as written, because foreign banks said direct disclosure to the IRS would violate local laws. The prospect of withholding spurred negotiations between the U.S. and foreign governments, and other countries saw the potential benefits of reciprocal information exchange.
“This will become a sharing, automatically, between the various countries,” Hintzke said.

So far, the U.S. has reached final or provisional agreements with more than 80 jurisdictions, allowing for government-to-government information exchange or streamlined business-to-government exchanges.
The list includes jurisdictions that often are labeled as tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Guernsey. It also includes most of the world’s major economies, such as Germany, Japan, Canada and the U.K.

Renouncing Citizenship
In 2013, 2,999 Americans renounced citizenship, the highest number on record, according to Treasury data compiled by Andrew Mitchel, an international tax lawyer. The four highest totals have all occurred since Fatca became law, though the exact reasons for renunciations aren’t reported.

“Fatca has been a pretty difficult blow for our U.S. expatriates,” said Martin Karges, senior director in international tax at BDO USA LLP in New York. “They may be shifting money to noncompliant jurisdictions.”

As the account information comes into the U.S. starting in 2015, the focus shifts to the IRS, which will use the data to guide its investigations into offshore tax evasion.

Even without Fatca in place, the U.S. has used prosecutions against Credit Suisse AG (CSGN) and UBS AG (UBSN) to glean information on Americans hiding overseas accounts.

Bankers, Lawyers
Prosecutors have charged more than 70 U.S. taxpayers and three dozen bankers, lawyers and advisers in their crackdown on offshore tax evasion. Those charged include H. Ty Warner, the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies plush toys; Igor Olenicoff, a billionaire real estate developer; and Brad Birkenfeld, a former UBS AG banker who blew the whistle on the bank.

The IRS has sponsored offshore voluntary disclosure programs since 2009 that have brought in about $6.5 billion in interest, taxes and penalties and prompted more than 45,000 Americans to reveal offshore holdings.

The tax agency has said it’ll have a relatively light enforcement touch for the first two years of Fatca for financial institutions that are trying to comply.

The resource-constrained IRS is making Fatca a priority without spending too much time on “small-scale” compliance matters, Commissioner John Koskinen said in a speech at a Washington tax conference earlier this month.

In ‘Shadows’
“The IRS and other enforcement agencies around the world will be able to focus on the structures and arrangements that, unfortunately but inevitably, will be devised to stay in the shadows in a new world of tax transparency,” he said. “And in that new world, governments will need to work closely together to shine light into those shadowy spaces until they no longer exist.”

Almost right up to the deadline, the IRS has been issuing forms and instructions and Treasury has been signing international agreements.

“We can question whether the cost is worth the benefits,” Harrington said. “But there’s no question there’s a cost, a big one. And it’s going to be ongoing too.”

By Richard Rubin, bloomberg.com

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Exchange rate 7 2 14

Exchange rate 7 2 14

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Today’s Exchange Rate 6/30/14

BAC San José

BAC San Jose Bank

Exchange Rate 6/30/14

El tipo de cambio del dólar US$ para hoy es: Compra ¢540 y Venta ¢550
¡Buenos días amigos!

The exchange rate of the dollar $ for today is: buy ¢ 540 and sale ¢ 550 good morning amigos!
Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!


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Expatriate Americans Break up with Uncle Sam

Record Numbers Living Abroad Renounce U.S. Citizenship over IRS Reporting Requirements

Patricia Moon was born in Dayton, Ohio, to a family descended from Quakers who settled in the New World before the American Revolution.

As a young woman, Ms. Moon fell for a Canadian man and moved to Toronto. The 59-year-old homemaker, who still visits the U.S. to see relatives, said she feels American in her bones, even after three decades abroad.

Yet despite her deep roots, Ms. Moon walked into a U.S. consulate two years ago, raised her right hand and recited an oath renouncing her U.S. citizenship. Afterward, she said, “I bawled my eyes out.”

Ms. Moon is among record numbers of Americans cutting ties. U.S. offices abroad reported that 1,001 U.S. citizens and green-card holders had renounced their allegiance in the first three months of the year, according to Andrew Mitchel, a lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who analyzes Treasury Department data. That figure puts 2014 on track to top last year’s total of 2,999 renunciations, he said, which was the most since the government began disclosing the data.

Helping boost the exodus, experts say, is a five-year-old U.S. campaign to hunt for undeclared accounts held by Americans abroad.

Since 2009, the government campaign has collected more than $6 billion in taxes, interest and penalties from more than 43,000 U.S. taxpayers. Federal prosecutors have filed more than 100 criminal indictments, including the high-profile case of Beanie Babies inventor Ty Warner, who last year pleaded guilty to tax evasion involving secret Swiss bank accounts.

The tax dragnet has also swept up many middle-income Americans living abroad, prompting some to give up their U.S. citizenship. While people who renounce aren’t freed of taxes due for past years, they don’t want to risk sizable taxes and penalties for them and their children in the years ahead, experts say. Nearly 8,000 taxpayers have renounced U.S. citizenship in the past five years, Mr. Mitchel found, compared with fewer than 5,000 in the preceding decade.

“The increase is due to current and future changes in tax law and enforcement,” said Freddi Weintraub, a New York attorney at the Fragomen firm who specializes in immigration law. She said in recent years she has seen a threefold increase in expatriation inquiries related to taxes.

Ms. Moon, for example, feared the IRS could charge her family nearly a half-million dollars in penalties on undeclared savings and checking accounts—even though, she said, the accounts never held more than $102,000, weren’t intentionally hidden and didn’t have any U.S. taxes owed. “I was afraid we would have to cash in our retirement accounts and sell our home,” she said.

Experts say the U.S. campaign could affect millions of Americans like Ms. Moon—people who aren’t wealthy, pay taxes in their host country, and who say they weren’t trying to dodge U.S. taxes.

“We have reached the point where middle-class American citizens abroad are being forced to renounce—especially if they have assets and are moving toward retirement—because of taxes, paperwork and huge potential penalties,” said John Richardson, a Toronto lawyer with dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. He and Ms. Moon help run a nonprofit group seeking to keep Canada from sharing private account information with U.S. authorities.

As word spreads, experts said, more Americans are likely to consider surrendering their citizenship. The State Department estimates that 7.6 million American citizens live outside the U.S., but only a fraction file required financial disclosure forms.

Mark Mazur, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy, said the government’s new enforcement was intended to help make sure all taxpayers pay what they owe “regardless of where they live.”

At the same time, Mr. Mazur said, Treasury needs to “maintain a balance between enforcement efforts and equity, including the burdens that may be placed on taxpayers.”

Mr. Mazur said Treasury was looking into how best to work with Congress and the IRS to fine-tune the system: “You can always improve.”

U.S. officials launched their campaign after Swiss banking giant UBS AG admitted in 2009 that it helped wealthy American taxpayers hide money overseas. To avoid criminal charges, the bank paid $780 million to the U.S. and turned over information on more than 4,400 accounts, ending decades of Swiss bank secrecy.

In May, Credit Suisse Group pleaded guilty to similar charges and agreed to pay $2.6 billion. Dozens of other Swiss banks are currently negotiating penalties with the U.S. Department of Justice, officials said.

Following the UBS revelations, U.S. officials announced they would begin vigorously enforcing both new and long-dormant tax rules.

Unlike other developed nations, the U.S. government taxes citizens on income they earn anywhere in the world. The rule dates to the Civil War, when Ms. Moon’s great-great grandfather served with Union forces.

U.S. tax liabilities also cover children born to Americans abroad, extending the reach of the IRS across generations, as well as oceans.

For decades, wealthy taxpayers were able to hide foreign assets in countries where bank-secrecy laws fostered attractive tax havens, including Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Panama.

But the UBS case signaled the beginning of the end for such havens. Armed with information from the Swiss bank, U.S. authorities pursued individuals for back taxes, and pressured the tax professionals who helped them.

As a result of the crackdown, Ms. Moon and others learned they had failed to comply with the law. “We call it the ‘Oh, my God! moment.’ Every expatriate has it,” Ms. Moon said. “They were going to take every dime we had, that was my fear.”

The violations often don’t involve unpaid U.S. taxes on wages: The law currently exempts about $100,000 of income earned abroad each year. Ms. Moon, for example, didn’t owe any income tax. She said she never made more than $11,000 a year when she worked from 2007 to 2012 as a bookkeeper for a business run by her husband, who earned about $65,000 a year devising special effects for movies and TV.

The most common mistakes usually involved Americans failing to submit a form called the Foreign Bank Account Report, or Fbar. Since 1970, U.S. taxpayers have been required to file if they held one or more foreign accounts totaling more than $10,000 over the course of a year. Until the enforcement push, many Americans never filed an Fbar.

The law is more than 40 years old, but “no one ever heard of it” before the crackdown, said Edward Kleinbard, a former chief of staff on Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, and an expert in international tax law at the University of Southern California.

Fbar penalties are as steep as 50% of the highest value of the account for each year no report was filed. The IRS fined one taxpayer for Fbar violations in four separate years, and a settlement reached this month in the case yielded $1.7 million in penalties, which was more than the account held at the time. Experts say the stiff penalties were originally enacted to discourage wealthy tycoons from hiding assets abroad.

In the fall of 2011, Ms. Moon learned she should have been filing Fbar forms on joint accounts she held with her husband. She calculated she could owe about $455,000 in penalties for the years she failed to file.

The IRS was unlikely to have imposed penalties that high, experts said, but it could have. “Getting professional help to correct her mistakes could easily have cost $15,000 to $20,000,” said Bryan Skarlatos, a lawyer with Kostelanetz & Fink in New York, which has advised thousands of taxpayers with secret offshore accounts.

Ms. Moon considered what to do. One of the IRS’s limited-amnesty programs had just ended and a new one didn’t start until 2012. She said she wouldn’t have entered a program in any case because she considered Fbar penalties too steep for “failing to file a piece of paper.” Penalties and other costs can amount to a third of the balance in an account or more.

“The programs are best for people who have done things serious enough to land them in prison and are willing to pay huge penalties to stay out,” said Philip Hodgen, an international tax lawyer in Pasadena, Calif.

Americans with smaller offshore accounts who entered the first IRS limited amnesty program paid proportionately higher penalties than taxpayers with larger accounts, according to Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, an IRS ombudsman.

The typical taxpayer with less than $45,000 in undeclared accounts paid nearly six times the back taxes owed, while the typical taxpayer with more than $7 million in such accounts paid closer to three times their back taxes, Ms. Olson found.

IRS officials “didn’t think about the demographics of the population” of overseas Americans, Ms. Olson said, often treating middle-class taxpayers the same as “bad actors.”

“There’s an awful lot of minnows caught up in this,” said Marvin Van Horn, a 66-year-old retired financial controller for Alaska Airlines. He said he entered an IRS limited-amnesty program in 2009: “I assumed it would be very clear I was not one of those quote-unquote offshore tax cheats, those big whales they were looking for.”

In prior U.S. tax filings, Mr. Van Horn said he hadn’t declared rental income from a house he and his Australian wife own in New Zealand, as well as interest income. He said he didn’t know such declarations were required.

“I have to take some responsibility,” Mr. Van Horn said. “It was stupidity and not paying attention on my part.”

The IRS fined him more than $172,000, roughly eight times his back taxes, which amounted to about $21,000 over six years, Mr. Van Horn said. With help from Ms. Olson’s office, he said, the fine was reduced to about $25,000. Spokesmen for the IRS and Ms. Olson said they couldn’t comment on individual cases.

In a June 3 speech, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency may not have been accommodating enough to U.S. citizens who have lived abroad for years. “We have been considering whether these individuals should have an opportunity to come into compliance that doesn’t involve the type of penalties that are appropriate for U.S.-resident taxpayers who were willfully hiding their investments overseas,” he said.

Scrutiny of Americans abroad will intensify, however, under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, which Congress passed in 2010. The law’s main provisions, which take effect in July, will require foreign financial institutions to report income of their U.S. customers to the IRS, much as U.S. banks and brokers file 1099 forms.

Middle-class Americans “face overwhelming problems when they try to engage in standard financial practices, such as having a small business, saving for retirement, investing, buying life insurance, and making wills and trusts,” because of the laws governing assets abroad, said David Kuenzi, a financial planner with Thun Financial Advisors in Madison, Wis., who works with expatriates.

The U.S. tax code, for example, doesn’t recognize Australia’s version of an individual retirement account, Mr. Kuenzi said. American taxpayers with these accounts must file at least two forms a year declaring the account a “foreign trust,” and paying taxes on annual appreciation.

The penalty for failing to file can be as much as 35% of both contributions and withdrawals each year, plus 5% of the assets, said Mr. Hodgen, the Pasadena tax lawyer.

Ms. Moon learned that U.S. law requires her to file annual reports on retirement accounts, such as her Tax-Free Savings Account—similar to a Roth IRA.

Her husband, Ken Whitmore, objected to divulging financial information on joint accounts to the IRS. “Would you want the Canada revenue service to know what your financial situation is?” he said.

Ms. Moon concluded that even if the IRS didn’t levy the stiffest fines, the potential consequences down the road for missing a deadline or making a mistake were too costly. She later learned she would have been required to pay U.S. taxes on part of the gain on the couple’s Toronto house, which they hope to sell for a retirement nest egg. They bought the house in the mid-1980s for $125,000, she said, and it was now worth an estimated $800,000.

Before renouncing her citizenship, Ms. Moon spoke with her sister, Sue Moon, a certified public accountant in Kansas City, Mo.

U.S. citizenship is the most coveted citizenship in the world. To give it up, it has to be pretty serious,” Sue Moon said. “There was just a sadness on her part, that she had to make that decision. She didn’t take it lightly.”

Months after Ms. Moon renounced her citizenship, her official notice arrived in Toronto. Ms. Moon went to the U.S. consulate to pick it up and paid a $450 processing fee. She told the clerk it was “the saddest $450 I’ll ever spend.”

Originally posted by The Wall Street Journal

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Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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I.R.S. makes major changes to Offshore Compliance Programs

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service announced today major changes in its offshore voluntary compliance programs, providing new options to help both taxpayers residing overseas and those residing in the United States. The changes are anticipated to provide thousands of people a new avenue to come into compliance with their U.S. tax obligations.

The changes include an expansion of the streamlined filing compliance procedures announced in 2012 and important modifications to the 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The expanded streamlined procedures are intended for U.S. taxpayers whose failure to disclose their offshore assets was non-willful.

“This opens a new pathway for people with offshore assets to come into tax compliance,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The new versions of our offshore programs reflect a carefully balanced approach to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes owed. Through the changes we are announcing today, we provide additional flexibility in key respects while maintaining the central components of our voluntary programs.”

Balanced against the modified programs is the government’s ongoing effort to combat the misuse of offshore assets. The IRS, working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice, continues to investigate foreign financial institutions that may have assisted U.S. taxpayers in avoiding their tax filing and payment obligations. In addition, on July 1, the new information reporting regime resulting from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) will go into effect. Thousands of foreign financial institutions will begin to report to the IRS the foreign accounts held by U.S. persons.

The current Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program was launched in 2012 and is the successor to prior voluntary programs offered in 2011 and 2009. Since the launch of the first program, more than 45,000 taxpayers have come into compliance voluntarily, paying about $6.5 billion in taxes, interest and penalties.

The expansion of the streamlined procedures and modifications to OVDP reflect the thoughtful input of the tax community given the growing awareness among U.S. taxpayers of their offshore tax obligations.

“Through our enforcement efforts and implementation of FATCA, taxpayers are more aware of their obligations, and we believe want to come into compliance,” Koskinen said. “In this rapidly changing environment, we listened to feedback from the tax community as well as the National Taxpayer Advocate about our voluntary programs. We have made important adjustments to provide opportunities for all U.S. taxpayers to come in, including those who are not willfully hiding assets.”

Streamlined Procedures Expanded

The changes announced today make key expansions in the streamlined procedures to accommodate a wider group of U.S. taxpayers who have unreported foreign financial accounts.

The original streamlined procedures announced in 2012 were available only to non–resident, non–filers. Taxpayer submissions were subject to different degrees of review based on the amount of the tax due and the taxpayer’s response to a “risk” questionnaire.

The expanded streamlined procedures are available to a wider population of U.S. taxpayers living outside the country and, for the first time, to certain U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States. The changes include:

  • Eliminating a requirement that the taxpayer have $1,500 or less of unpaid tax per year;
  • Eliminating the required risk questionnaire;
  • Requiring the taxpayer to certify that previous failures to comply were due to non–willful conduct.

For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing outside the United States, all penalties will be waived. For eligible U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States, the only penalty will be a miscellaneous offshore penalty equal to 5 percent of the foreign financial assets that gave rise to the tax compliance issue.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) Modified

The changes announced today also make important modifications to the OVDP. The changes include:

  • Requiring additional information from taxpayers applying to the program;
  • Eliminating the existing reduced penalty percentage for certain non–willful taxpayers in light of the expansion of the streamlined procedures;
  • Requiring taxpayers to submit all account statements and pay the offshore penalty at the time of the OVDP application;
  • Enabling taxpayers to submit voluminous records electronically rather than on paper;
  • Increasing the offshore penalty percentage (from 27.5% to 50%) if, before the taxpayer’s OVDP pre–clearance request is submitted, it becomes public that a financial institution where the taxpayer holds an account or another party facilitating the taxpayer’s offshore arrangement is under investigation by the IRS or Department of Justice.

Full details of the changes to both the streamlined procedures and OVDP can be found on IRS.gov.

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News: IBM Costa RIca Investment

IBM INVESTS U.S. $ 300 MILLION IN COSTA RICA

The firm will establish a central provision of information technology, making a major investment in recent years that will generate 1,000 jobs.

IBM Costa Rica

The company chose IBM to Costa Rica to expand its operations and install a new service center information technology in which to invest U.S. $ 300 million over the next ten years.

The company plans to install a new plant will generate 1,000 new jobs. This investment is one of the most significant of the last thirteen years in the service sector is the most important in the last seven.

The Center will provide support services strategic outsourcing, server systems operations, security services, maintenance and monitoring of Harvard computer and software systems, among others. Work with other centers that have signed in China, Brazil, India and Argentina, said Patt Croning, general manager of Global Technology Delivery and Delivery Excellence, IBM.

IBM already has operations in the country, are based on human resources, customer relationship management, finance, accounting and shared services.

The decision to open a new service center in Costa Rican soil thanks is given to the country is connected with the international economy by opening up telecommunications and the Free Trade Treaty with the United States, said Anabel Gonzalez, Minister of Commerce Exterior (Comex).

This investment is also part of the strategies promoted by the government of the Republic to attract foreign investment. IBM began negotiations on a tour of the Comex and the Coalition of Development Initiatives (CINDE) in October last year in New York and strengthened in a trip he took the president Laura Chinchilla to Washington last May.

The decision to install the new center was made last week so the place where the plant will be located is still unknown but is expected to be in the province of Heredia or Alajuela and to begin operations in 2014. However, the contracts will begin in the coming days, said Croning.

Costa Rica is home to major multinationals such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard have set up their businesses, have invested large sums of money and generate thousands of jobs. Only last year the medical device company St. Jude Medical announced an investment of U.S. $ 670 million.

“This news is part of the efforts towards economic recovery and attracting investment, which seeks to position Costa Rica as an innovation economy for the quality of investment that is being installed, as in this case that the high-tech sector create skilled jobs, “said President Chinchilla.

The announcement of the new IBM investment was held Thursday morning at the Presidential Palace and was attended by the president of the Republic, the Minister of Comex, Alejandro Cruz, Minister of Science and Technology, Jorge Rossi, president of Cinde and Croning IBM.

Links: http://www.revistasumma.com/

Source: http://www.revistasumma.com/negocios/13795-ibm-invierte-us$300-millones-en-costa-rica.html

English version originally posted Euro Center

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Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

Banco Popular Selling Homes at 50% Discount All Over Costa Rica

The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – The People’s Bank and Community Development announced it will sell 775 properties across the country, which will have attractive financing up to 50% off.

The supply of houses and lots will have alternative financing up to 100% of its value with terms ranging up to 30 years to repay.

Milagro Hernandez, head of the Popular Credit Bank and Community Development, said that these properties allow families to buy a property at a good price with excellent financing options.

Those interested in one of these properties may obtain further information at their web site or in any of the 100 banks nationwide.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica

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Oh by the Gods!!!!! Look out Vegas!

Betting on Costa Rica’s 3-1 Win Made Millionaires in Las Vegas

Costa Rica News – As I saw on a friend of mine’s Facebook wall yesterday, “That sound you just heard was the human-enduced earthquake in Costa Rica.” He was not far from the truth.  No one expected Costa Rica to win yesterday and that included the odds makers in Las Vegas.

soccer bettingThe odds were very low for Costa Rica to even win the game but a few people in Vegas not only bet on them to win but bet on them to win 3 to 1.  On average the odds were 1800 to 1 at sportsbooks but they were even higher game time in Vegas, for the score to end the way it did.  There were some people counting their dollars in Vegas even though at least 2 of them made the bet by mistake.

So far the damage for sportsbook and Las Vegas is estimated at several billion dollars.

According to a report from MGM casinos group, it only takes a few bets to completely make a business go under.

“For some reason 3 people bet in favor for Costa Rica winning with this score, and there is nothing we can do except pay,” said the MGM spokesperson.

One of the winner was an America named Robert Green who said he wanted to bet on Cristiano Ronaldo when he saw CR on the screen.

Green said that he thought that Cristiano Ronaldo could beat Uruguay and it made him a millionaire. Nice mistake to make.

Another gambler won during a drunken haze.  He was completely drunk when he placed the bet and admit that he knows nothing about soccer. His bet while drunk netted $3.2 million dollars. Some people wake up wondering where their money went in Vegas this guy actually woke up a millionaire.

Finally was a 3rd sport bettor who as of yet does not have a face.  He bet on Costa Rica to win 3 to 1 but placed the hefty amount of $10,000.  At the odds of 1800 to 1 this would make him $18 million richer.  There are several investigations going on about this bet as no one believes someone would place it.

Not only were the hearts in Costa Rica filled with joy yesterday, many people had their pockets also filled from wagers on the game.

Originally posted at Costa Rican Times

Pura Vida

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U.S. Dollar vs Colon

Costa Rica News – Costa Rica’s currency needs to weaken further against the dollar to aid exporters as the country courts investors in the wake of firings by Intel Corp. and Bank of America Corp., President Luis Guillermo Solis said.

costa rica colonThe 9.5 percent decline in the colon this year is the most among 18 Latin American and Caribbean currencies after the Argentine peso. The central bank has sold dollars on 13 of the past 15 trading days, totaling about $122 million, its longest streak since 2008. Solis said he’s “happy” with the bank’s efforts to limit volatility since he took office May 8.

“The trend toward devaluation needs to be kept,” Solis said today in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “There’s no way we could keep the colon strong. Exporters and tourism investors were going crazy.”

The currency weakened 0.3 percent, the most in three weeks, to 554.04 per dollar at 12:57 p.m. local time. Solis said he doesn’t have a target for the colon and that the rate should be set by the market. A devaluation could aid the economy by making exports cheaper and luring more tourists to a country known for its tropical rain forests and beach resorts.

Solis, 56, is seeking to bolster the Central American nation’s economy after Intel (INTC) and Bank of America announced 3,000 firings in April, days after the former history professor won a runoff with 79 percent support. Citigroup Inc. cut its 2015 growth forecast for gross domestic product to 2.2 percent from 4 percent after the layoffs were announced.

Intel Lab

Intel accounted for about 21 percent of the country’s exports of goods, or 14 percent of total exports, according to Costa Rica’s investment promotion agency, known as CINDE. The Santa Clara, California-based company had said it was cutting its workforce in the country as part of an effort to consolidate operations. Intel later announced plans to invest $6 billion to upgrade a chip factory in southern Israel.

Intel said yesterday it would expand a testing laboratory in Costa Rica that will employ 350 people. Solis, who met with company officials this week in California, said his government will seek to improve infrastructure and education, lure more high-technology investors and expand the domestic market.

Those measures could help raise economic growth to 5 percent per year, he said. Growth this year could reach 3.5 percent, he added. Expansion will help tackle poverty in a country ranked 102nd in the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” report this year, behind China, Vietnam and Namibia.

Poverty Fight

“I’m not willing to leave behind a significant part of the population of Costa Rica that has not had access to the benefits of the open economy,” Solis said. “I want to reduce poverty rates. The only way to do that is to make the economy larger.”

The central bank today raised the basic interest rate to 6.95 percent from 6.90 percent. Inflation in the country reached 4.2 percent in May from a year earlier, the fastest pace since September.

Chinese investment in Costa Rica is increasing, Solis said, and the government is backing efforts to improve roads linking the border region near Nicaragua to the port of Moin, near the city of Limon. The Hague-based APM Terminals BV is upgrading the port.

Solis reaffirmed his commitment not to raise taxes before 2016, saying he would seek to bring down income tax evasion of about 50 percent and fight the trade in contraband. The budget deficit estimated at 6 percent of GDP this year could be reduced by 1.5 percentage points by the end of his term, he said.

“If we are able to cut down expenses and make them better, in all likelihood we could probably lower the deficit at least a point and a half,” he said. “That would be a very good expectation.”

By Bill Faries and Jose Enrique Arrioja, From Bloomberg, bloomberg.com

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Enter our contest and win amazon gift card!

Follow our blog and if we reach 10K followers before 6/30/14 we will give at random a $100 amazon gift card to one of our lucky followers on 7/1/14.

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of living Day 7, 8, 9 and 10!

Sorry for the long update, but 7th and 8th were pretty boring days. Just sat at home, watched some TV. Started to watch the Orange is the new black, and trying to catch up on American Horror story. We are starting season 3 The Coven. Hopefully it is as  good as the others were. We did some shopping and stuff on the 9th so lets get to that.

Day 9 was a busy day as Monday’s usually are. The housekeeper and Gardener was here. So that is when we do a lot of our running for the week as they will keep and eye on the dogs for us. We did happen to have a little mishap while we were gone. The gardener accidentally hit the pipe coming from the solar hot water on our rancho roof to the pool. :-( He ran down to the gate and had them call our pool guy who came right out and patched it. He fixed it today on the 10th. So won’t see that bill until next month. He only sends a bill once a month. Otherwise the house ran smoothly while we were gone.

We went to see the dietitian as we do on Mondays. Had a good week my wife and I both lost weight. So cheers! Even though I am no longer on the diet she till wanted to weigh me and measure me. She is interested in how I am doing. She follows me on facebook and looks at my fitbit auto post to my timeline that shows what my exercise is and what I am eating. Its a great tool for weight loss.

After we were done there we heading to Escazu to go to Pricesmart to pick up dog food. Well we decided to have lunch at the Avaneda. We scoped out a place we have never been before. You will see it on the budget. It is our 1st time there and I doubt we will be back. I will be writing a review in the next couple of days so look out for that as well.

Lunch ran pretty long about 2 hours so by the time we were done I was kind of done so I wanted to head home. Then I realized we really need dog food and really need to pay the electric bill. So we head off to the bank to take out some cash. We head to the local grocery store which is really nice and in expensive. I also realized once we were there I needed to pick up a few other things as well so we walked the entire store. We also pay our Electric and Cable/internet bills there. I did make a mistake on my internet bill and have corrected it on the budget sheet. It was $90 a month but $57 for my 5Mbps download and 500Kbps upload service. Here is what I got at the market.

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29,205 colones or $52.67

This is a 66lb bag. I will last a good while. I would say almost a month along with the 50lb bag I buy at pricesmart of the Kirkland brand. I buy both so I can mix them as there are times when for whatever reason I can’t find one or the other. So mixing them allows me to be out of on or the other without upsetting tummies. I will need a bag of Kirkland soon so hopefully in he next day or two I will go pick one up.

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739 Colones or $1.33

It takes about 3 of these to equal the amount I got at Pricesmart. So that puts this at $7.98 and I paid $11.93 at pricesmart. ok I’m convinced I will get my Broccoli from Coop from now on!!!!!

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1034 colones or $1.86

The onions I bought at maxipali same amount and actually these are a little bigger cost me 788 colones or $1.42 not worth an extra trip to save a few pennies. So Coop wins again! These actually looked better.

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1,800 colones or $3.25

Again looks like the coop wins! This is 10 for $3.25 and they are bigger than the ones I got at Pricesmart where I paid $2.12 for 5.

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336 colones or $0.61

We have a very clear winner on this one. Coop! These were bigger then what I got at Pricesmart and I paid $1.03 for 3 smaller ones. I’m starting to see the light how about you?

The next expense on our budget is the vet bill. When we came home out housekeeper showed us a spot where one of our dogs made a mess. The reason she left it for us to see is that it had some blood in it. So we had to run our poor little gizzy to the vet to be checked out. Here is Gizzy!

Gizmo

Gizmo

We still as of yet don’t know what is wrong, but Dr. Solano thinks it is some sort of intestinal something or other.  He did put him on medication just in case. He wasn’t acting sick or looking sick. The bill was for the following:

Consult 9000 colones

Complete Hemograma 9500 colones

lopelisan shot 2300 colones

jeringa shot 1700 colones

poop sample 1150 colones

So the total bill was 23650 or $42.65

Most people say that Dr. Solano is one of the more expensive vets in town. That could be true, but he is well worth it! He is one great vet and is a pleasure to deal with and is very knowledgeable! We love, love, love him! That price is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay back it the states!

That pretty much covers I think everything. Here is the budget so far.

day 7 thru 10

As you can see we had lunch at Kay’s again! We do love the place. We were there from 11:30 until about 3:30 today. Ate and had some good conversation with friends. So its a little more this time. I only got 2 salads and my wife got her 2 egg veggie omelets, but we got a lot of Coke Zero and Gin Light. Again the food was good as always! The salads have gotten much better!

Oh and Friday I will have a cost for repair of our weed whacker that I dropped off today. The gardener has not been taken care of it the way he should and he refused to use it until I got it fixed. Which is why he cut our pipe with the machete. As the repair guy told me nothing really wrong with it, but he replace the part that had a piece that broke off and he did some maintenance that needed to be done as its not being handled well. You are suppose to mix oil and gas together and than put it in the machine??? I had no clue and apparently neither did the gardener. So I am taking him with me Friday so they can show him what he needs to do from now on!

Still have 20 days left and I know I am not going to make it for under $2k. Well we will see. Once I am done we will do a recap of the month and see where things could have been eliminated and or saved money and such and see where that lands our final budget. Have a great day!

Oh and drop me a comment if you want to see more pictures and instructions on the food I cook here at the house.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

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Cost of living day 7

Well today was a relax in the pool and chill day. Nope I did not make it to the Coop to pay the electric bill or to pick up dog food. So I guess that waits until Monday. Pura Vida right? Dogs still have food so we are good and it should last until Monday. :-) So what did I do today?

I went out and worked out on the bowflex. I did about 1/2 hour on it. I had to figure out how it works, but that time isn’t included in the workout time. Ran on the treadmill for about an hour or so. Got in the pool for about 2 hours and swam around and just hung out. I cooked all day so the highlight of this day will be the lunch and dinner I cooked.

My breakfast was just two eggs over easy and 3 plum tomatoes cut and cooked with a little salt and pepper. It sounds very plain but it was very nice. You take the eggs and place them over the tomatoes so when you cut into the egg the yummy yellow center mixes with the tomatoes and and their juiciness. :-) Really yummy you should try it.

lunch was an Asian stir fry. Very simple only need a couple of ingredients but full of flavor! As well as fills you up! I did however forget to get out the mushrooms! :-) It was still yummy here are the pictures and what I did.

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Here is you need. Red cabbage (about 3 oz), orange bell peppers (1/2 regular size) (can be any pepper you want), cucumbers (1/2 regular size), broccoli (2.5 oz), and tomatoes (2 plum). Do whatever quantity you want. Cut everything up into small pieces as you see above.

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This is what makes it an Asian dish. A dish’s ethnicity is created by the spices you use in the dish. Some ingredients will also lend to what region you dish can be assigned to, but he spices are what makes any dish! I only use 1/4 of a teaspoon of each of these in a cast iron pan that is hot!!!!! very hot!!!! We will also be adding 1 tablespoon of soy sauce later so don’t salt the dish until end.

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These items will take the longest to cook so you want to get them in 1st and get the oil moving around and coating them. Here you can start to pepper your dish, but DON”T salt it yet!

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Now we have added the peppers. You only wait about a min or two before you add the next ingredient. Flavor not only comes from what you put in your pan, but also from how you put it in. Layering you food is very important as well.

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Now you add the cucumbers! At this point you will want to taste the dish after about a min or two of cooking to see if you have enough pepper in the dish. If not now is when you want to add it.

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Finally you add the tomatoes and the soy sauce. You let that cook and allow the soy to reduce down along with the juices from the cucumbers and tomatoes. This should take about 3 min. Remember to keep moving that food around. Now taste it. If you think the soy has added enough salt to the dish you are done. If you need to add salt do so and let it cook as you do until you get it to where you want it. Remember salt a little at a time let it mix and heat for about 30 seconds than taste it again and keep doing this until you get it as you like it. Also if you think it needs a little more kick to it either add a little more hot oil or you can add some crushed red peppers!

That was my lunch! So give it a try and let me know how yours turned out as mine was very yummy and just the right amount of kick to it!

Dinner was Chicken and broccoli. It is a pretty simple dish. I just cooked the chicken I bought earlier in the week in a pan with a little evoo salt, pepper, and lemon juice. I than steamed the broccoli in a microwave steamer. Once it was done I added some “I can’t believe its not butter” to it with some salt and pepper and this is what you get!

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Day 7

So day 7 nothing! Whoot! Have a great day! Onto day 8. Which is going to look a lot like day 7.

Pura Vida!

 

 

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Cost of living Day 6

Day 6 was pretty uneventful. We didn’t do much other than go out to Kay’s Gringo Postres again for lunch. Had some good conversation with friends who happen to stop in while we were there. I did go out and buy a bowflex used, but I’m not putting that in the budget as it is an expense that isn’t normal every day stuff.

I got it for $400. Its in almost new shape so I think I got a deal on it. Now if I can figure out how the damn thing works I will be good to go. Have my own personal gym at this point. I brought down with us a treadmill and stationary bike. Now the bowflex. I should be all buff in no time at all! :) So her is the budget to get you all caught up. Still have not gotten to the store to pay the electric or pick up the dog food. I should do that today! Or maybe go to a movie? Not sure we will see how the day goes. Have a great one!

Day 4 5 and 6

 

Oh and the lunch at Kay’s was higher because I had 3 of the garden salads instead of 1. I was hungry. They had no dressing on them and I had them grilled. So it was 3 garden salads, 2 veggie omelets, 1 gin light, 2 coke zero’s and a full size chocolate cake! I love their chocolate cake!

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of Living day 4 and Day 5

The one thing you can count on while living in Costa Rica is your day will never go as planned. I think I have said that already. So, yesterday was going to be a stay at home day and thank I hear my wife’s knitting group is going to eat lunch at a local pizza place that I have been dying to try, but because of the diet I couldn’t. So I jump on that! Not a knitter myself, but figured I could catch up on some writing while they all talk knitting and I can sample some pizza. So we get there and guess what. Not open! They are suppose to be open, but they aren’t. Ok so plan B. We go to the next pizza joint. Again a place that opened while on the diet and have not tried them so cool. Guess what? Not open again! Ok on to plan C. We go to Antono’s. A place we have had a meal or two before. Good food and good prices. After lunch we headed to the Maxi Pali. A very controversial store that just opened in Atenas. Long story short Expats are upset as its a Walmart owned store. Read my blog titled Unhappy Gringo’s it kind of gives my feelings on Gringo’s telling people what they can and can’t do. Again still did not complete all of my shopping. I did pick up a few more items, but I still need dog food. Glad I don’t wait till the last minute or the dogs we be starving by now. :-)

Lets start with lunch Here is what we had. I was starving and I have no clue why.

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1100 colones or $1.98

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3700 colones or $6.67

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2600 colones or $4.69

 

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1800 colones or $3.25 I got it without the bun.

We also had a total of 5 Coke Lights @1000 colones each. So our total bill with tax and tip came to 17620 colones $31.79. Not a bad price really. It is a little more expensive but the food was really good. My salad was entree size. So with the burger and my wife’s meal we actually got 3 entrees.

Here are the groceries I bought on this day.

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Gin light 1,800 colones $3.25 and the Coke Zero 1,460 colones or $2.63. Which is pretty good prices.

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1,275 colones or $2.30

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788 colones or $1.42

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559 Colones or $1.01

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1,000 colones or $1.80 These were really, really good!

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4,517.50 colones or $8.50 this is 1/2 kilo or 1lb of sea bass.

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8,100 colones or $14.61 this again is 1/2 kilo or 1lb.

 Here is what we spend on day 4 $151.57 spent and a total left on the budget of $739.41.  Paid $59.73 for community fees which covers water, security and trash removal. Still have to pay electric once we get the bill.

Day 5 was a pretty much stay at home day. So nothing really spent. At this rate I may have to have more stay at home day. Lets see how it goes. I still need to go get dog food! When I go to Coop to do that on day 7 I will also pay the electric bill.

Here is some of the food I prepared on day 5 while I was home hope you enjoy it!

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So this is the start of Breakfast. 3 eggs, a couple slices of onion, 1/4 of a red pepper, and some mushrooms that were marinated in minced garlic. Yummy! I call it the Maryland Scramble.

 

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You put the onions and peppers in with just a 1/2 teaspoon of evoo. Let them cook until they are nice and tender.

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Than you add the mushrooms! Let it cook make sure you keep moving thing around so nothing burns.

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Here is what makes it Maryland. You put just a pinch of Old Bay. Yea right a pinch! You cover that shit with old bay!

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Scrabble your eggs and poor it in! Again keep that food moving so nothing stick or burns. Cook it to the point that you like your eggs. If you like them a little wet or completely dry. I like mine in the middle.

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Here is the final dish. It was very filling. You can use what ever veggies you want its all good.

Here are some of the pictures from dinner.

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That is onion, broccoli, tomatoes, red bell pepper and of course the garlic marinated mushrooms. Have I mentioned how much I love garlic and mushrooms?

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Place 1/2 teaspoon of evoo with the onions and broccoli. They take the longest to cook. Just cook until they are soft. Keep moving it around don’t burn it.

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Add the peppers! Add salt and pepper at this point.

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Now add the tomatoes and keep it moving.

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Now the mushrooms!

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The final product! It is very tasty! Sorry picture is a little blurry. So that is it for day 4 and 5.

Pura Vida.

 



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How to Avoid Personal Banking Disasters in Costa Rica

Coopenae Bank Costa Rica

Personal banking at the large state-sponsored institutions in Costa Rica is not for the squeamish. There are many horror stories among expatriates about frozen funds, incorrect account information, blocked debit cards, lost term deposits, excessive red tape, etc. Most of the time, these problems can be avoided in the first place with the assistance of a bilingual account executive who really cares. Asdrubal Zamora of credit union COOPENAE tells us more about this:

About 30 years ago, I remember going to a state-sponsored bank and standing in line for over an hour. More than 15 years later, I returned to that bank and endured a similar experience. In late 2013, I happened to visit that same bank and noticed that the building had been nicely remodeled, but the long lines and slow customer service had not changed at all, which did not surprise me.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity of listening to expatriates in Costa Rica talk about their experiences in dealing with state-sponsored banks. I am going to share some of them, and I should mention that they are not the usual complaints about long waiting lines, dubious service and excessive red tape: The following experiences are caused by the sad fact that major language and culture barriers persist at state-sponsored banks to this very day.

1 – Residency Status and the Future of Personal Banking in Costa Rica

Every day, I get inquiries by expats who ask about the possibility of opening a personal account or a fixed term deposit such as a Certificate of Deposit (CD). In general, this will require a residency permit; in fact, even some who opened bank accounts in Costa Rica with just their passports in the past may have troubles using the SINPE transfer system these days.

What everyone should be aware of is that inquiring about the possibility of opening an account is a good first step. Each case may be different, and there may be a chance to open an account, but it is highly recommended to do it. The current political climate is ripe for the creation of new taxes and levies, which in the future may very well apply to expats who wish to open bank accounts. Personal banking in Costa Rica is bound to get more restrictive and invasive in the future, which is why expats should try to get their accounts now so that they can be grandfathered later.

2 – The Frustration of Debit Cards Not Working Overseas

One of the most unfortunate situations travelers can run into is having their debit or credit cards declined abroad. Imagine going back home and trying to access funds deposited in Costa Rica, only to find out that it is impossible. On top of that, there’s also the likelihood of the card being blocked upon return.

Account executives must be notified when a debit card is intended to be used outside of Costa Rica, but this is something that many expat account holders are not aware of because they are never notified inasmuch. There goes the language and cultural barrier again, but the fact is that must be done at all banks, I always tell my clients to contact us before they travel to activate their cards overseas, and to also keep all their purchase and payment receipts, which must be attached to all claims and chargebacks within one month.

3 – Zombie Certificates of Deposit in Costa Rica

An expat couple once contacted me for assistance in transferring their CD, which was issued by a state-sponsored bank, into a COOPENAE account. On the maturity and expiration date of the contract, they personally went to their bank and were not able to get cash in their CD. The problem? It was set to renew automatically; the account holders were expected to notify the bank well in advance to prevent this feature from being triggered.

The couple was able to withdraw the funds and terminate the CD the next day; albeit by having to pay an expensive penalty. This is what I tell my clients: If you are going to be away from Costa Rica when your term deposit matures, it is better to be able to renegotiate the terms than to have renew by default. In terms of customer service, the bank should be making an effort to contact the CD holders beforehand to notify them of the upcoming maturity and expiration.

4 – Exorbitant Credit Card Rates and Unreasonable Collateral

Credit card rates in Costa Rica tend to be extremely high. We are talking about 23 to 52 percent, depending on the bank. Under such terms, I cannot recommend them. Still, some people like them and such was the case with this expat couple who wanted to transfer their money from their bank into COOPENAE so that they could take advantage of certain investments that were performing well at the time. It turns out that their money was tied up because their CD served as a collateral for their high-interest credit card!

Naturally, the couple’s request to cancel their credit card and liberate the funds in their CD was denied by the stuffy state-sponsored bank, which had created a Catch-22 situation by using the term deposit as collateral for the credit card. In the end, I went to the bank and performed the required, yet confusing, steps on behalf of the couple: Paying off the balance on the card with funds outside of the collateral, terminating the credit account, turning over the CD to my clients, and finally having them endorse it to my bank. It is important to remember that physical bonds in Costa Rica are as negotiable as check.

The lesson here is that complex personal banking transactions such as putting up term deposits as guarantees for credit cards should not be attempted by expats who are not familiar with the language or the system. It’s ok to handle certain basic transactions in rudimentary Spanish or English, but more involved procedures require bilingual assistance.

5 – The Case of the Lost CD and the Four-Year Wait

So an expat CD investor asked for a replacement since he lost the original paper certificate. It should be noted that CDs in Costa Rica, whether they are issued by a state-sponsored or private bank, can be obtained in physical or virtual (electronic) formats. Investors who take their physical CDs are responsible for their safekeeping.

By law, investors who lose their physical CDs in Costa Rica must wait four years until they see get their money, and only after filing a report with OIJ, sitting down with a notary to issue a public affidavit, and publishing the latter in the newspaper of record. This should not have to happen since:

  • Banks should be encouraging virtual CDs, which are eco-friendly and cannot be lost.
  • Virtual CDs promote savings and disciplined investing since they cannot be negotiated as checks before maturity.
  • Banks should offer physical CD investors to keep custody of their paper certificates in their safe or strongbox.

For more information about COOPENAE’s services and investment options, please contact Mr. Zamora directly.

Originally posted at http://news.co.cr/how-to-avoid-personal-banking-disasters-in-costa-rica/34452/

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Banking, Finance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cost of Living day 3

So you know that one thing you can count on in Costa Rica is that your day will never go as you planned, but it will go as it should be. I actually went out to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and thank finish my grocery shopping and look for some gym equipment. Well I got most of that accomplished in 5 hours. :-)

So lets start with lunch shall we. Got to Kay’s at about 12. Had a very nice lunch see pictures below. It was a much better price than we had the other day at Hard Rock Cafe and there was more food! it didn’t cost me 2 additional trips to the Treadmill to work it off either, so it was a win all the way around by eating local and not at a chain. The price of 10,500 colones in addition to what you are about to see 2 coke lights as well.

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This was the Mama’s Meatloaf special. It was very tasty. The meatloaf was seasoned well and it was not dry! Always a plus! The string beans were very good and the potato was a nice touch and there was bacon!!!!! The side salad was good as well.

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This was 2 veggie omelets that had a good taste, lots of veggies and very filling.

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That is the chocolate cake that came with my meatloaf special. It was good as usual, but a little on the small size. I know it was free with the meal, but a little bigger would be nice.  It was smaller than what is usually served. I’m sure Kay was looking after my diet for me! :-) Over all still a good price for 2 coke zero’s, and unlimited ice tea (came with my special) and a full size piece of chocolate cake my wife ate, that I forgot to show which was about 3x bigger or more than this one. Cost was 10,500 colones.  Much better deal than yesterday!

So, after lunch we went off to find the gym equipment store that a couple people told me about. Guess what! Its not there any more! Go figure! It always seems to work that way. When you want something it just all of a sudden goes away. So that wasted time. Ok so lets go to the mall and visit the GNC. I did not include those purchases as it is very special items for our diet. That really shouldn’t count in the budget. We did get everything we wanted to get there. Some protein powder and protein bars and such. Mainly for snacking. You will notice no fruit in my shopping. So finally we are off to the grocery store.

This trip I decided to shop at Pricesmart for the few items. I say a few items as I forgot to make a list and didn’t get everything. So I will be going out later today to get what I forgot yesterday. What I would like to do is pick up the same items in the same quantities at other places each week so you can see the difference. I should have bought less but its Pricesmart so everything is in bulk!  Here is what I bought and the cost. This will last me about 2 weeks. I still need to get me some eggplant, onions, fish, and dog food. Hopefully that will  happen today. May check out the dreaded Maxi Pali that just opened up yesterday. If its not too crowded.

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6500 Colones $11.73

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950 colones or $1.71

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1350 colones or $2.44

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2125 colones or $3.84

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5195 Colones or $9.38 I get these to handle my sugar drops. They are the best calories for the carbs.

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1175 colones or $2.12

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7173 colones or $12.95 this will make about 4 meals for us or more.

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5198 colones or $9.38 There are 60 eggs total. Yes I had 3 for breakfast today.

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3695 colones or $6.67 I buy this as I use mushroom in everything. i like fresh but a small tray of fresh is almost this price. They are good if you marinate them before you use them. I put them in a bowl in the fridge with garlic since I put them and garlic in almost everything I make.

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7295 colones or $13.17 in the states this would be under $10 a bit more, but really what else can you use? Never looked if there is a local brand?

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8995 colones or $16.23 Dog treats. This might last a week. Remember I have 10 dogs. :-) I’ve tasted them they are pretty good. :-) I wouldn’t eat a whole one, but I understand why my dogs love them!

 

So there are the groceries for the day. Yes you can get them cheaper other places and I will try to do that next time. I like the broccoli at pricesmart as it is precut and always looks good. Sometimes the local Ferria or Grocery stores have dark areas all though out so I don’t like getting it there. Ok now for the budget update.

day 3

Doesn’t look good for me. Still have electric, pool service, and community fees to pay. We are eating out again today for lunch. Again local place so cross your fingers.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

Categories: Finance, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cost of living day 2

Well didn’t get as much done today as I would have liked to. We didn’t really go grocery shopping at all. I got distracted by a mall our nutritionist send us to for food. Well that was a bust. It was just a food court and I didn’t see anything I wanted to eat. So we decided to go somewhere else. We finally ended at the Hard Rock Cafe. Boy was that a mistake on many levels. I will be writing a review and you really need to read it! You will be shocked by the information I have found out about their food!!!!!!!! You won’t believe it! Back to the budget.

So did go and get diet food and paid some monthly expenses. So here is the chart.

Day 2

Oh my as you can see I have went though 1/2 my budget by day two. Now if you take out the diet food my balance would be $1239 left. As you can also see I pay a good bit for Internet. Most people only pay a fraction of this. If you read this please post what you pay for internet in the comments section. Say what your location is, how much bandwith, which company please.

Looking at this I may not make it. I still have Electric and Community fees to pay as well as pool service as my monthly expenses. So cross your fingers! What is the lesson we learned? Don’t eat at the Hard Rock Cafe as it will Cost you big time! Granted not as expensive as some places but still up there for a meal for two. Again see my review it will detail everything.

Pura Vida.

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Cost of Living Day 1

Hello all. Day one of my 3 day Cost of living was pretty uneventful. We really didn’t go anywhere kind of stayed at home and watched TV and had some pool time. It was a really beautiful day out today. So nothing really spent today as we ate what we had in the house. Manly diet food and veggies. My breakfast was a diet drink, 2nd breakfast was diet pancake mix, Denise was diet drink, our lunch was grilled veggies and a diet drink. Her dinner was steamed broccoli and 8oz of chicken cooked with a little EVOO , salt and pepper. Mine was 2 cups of veggies sauteed in I can’t believe its not butter and garlic and I had a chocolate protein drink.

Today we maybe spent on Breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Veggies $3

Diet food (very expensive) $45

Misc food consumed about another (chicken and protein drink) $2

So total without diet food $5 for the day. AS we mostly drink water. So no cost here. $45 for the diet food. So total for today is $50.

Well see you tomorrow. Tomorrow we go out for our weigh in and grocery shopping and such. So I will update you on how that goes at the end of the day.

Pura Vida!

 

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