This week's Photo of the Week was taken by John Berry (JB) on August 3, 2014 from Paxanax in Santa Cruz la Laguna. One of our lovely Lake Atitlan sunsets with dramatic lighting on a Traveler's Palm or Tree (Ravenala madagascariensis).
If you have any photos you would like to submit for Photo of the Week, please let me know through the Contact Form. Photos of the Week can be anything related to the Lake Atitlán area.
View the Photos of the Week archive at: http://santacruzlalaguna.weebly.com/photos.html
No special events for this week. If you have any events you would like to promote, please send your blurb with image or photo to: email@example.com. I need to receive your submission no later than Sunday afternoons as this Blog comes out on Monday mornings.
Check out regular event listings on the Lake Atitlan Events Calendar,
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While some who live on the shores of Lake Atitlán are grateful for a long canicula, parts of Guatemala and other Central American countries are suffering a severe drought. And this El Niño caused drought will most definitely affect food security in many parts of the country.
Normally the farmers plant two crops a year. The sale of the first crop of maize and beans pays for the seeds for the second crop. But this year the extended canicula and resulting drought has caused much of the first crop to fail as well as preventing the second crop to be planted due to lack of funds. Some preliminary estimates say that there will be at least a 40% decrease in maize production this year resulting in food shortages, rising food prices and hunger in an region where malnutrition is already taking it's toll. Most affected are Santa Rosa, Jutiapa, Jalapa, El Progreso, Zacapa, Chiquimula, Alta and Baja Verapaz departments.
Guatemala has already started to make plans to distribute food from the U.N. World Food Program (WPF) and it's own reserves in early October.
If anyone knows of good, sustainable nonprofits that will be working to assist in these areas, let us all know.
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Recently there has been some local discussion about various types of taxes, what they are and what they mean to you and me as "extranjeros" or "chaleteros." I asked Armand Boissy if he would write up something explaining it for us. Here is what Armand has to say about the IUSI tax:
WHAT IS THE “YOU ZE” (IUSI) ALL ABOUT
The IUSI (Impuesto Unico Sobre Inmueble) is a tax that was established in 1998 through the Decree of 15-98.
This is a national tax, but it is administered at the Municipal level. Initialy the IUSI was administrated by the central government but more and more cities have been requesting to administer this tax themselves. This is why around the lake more and more villages are managing and collecting it. Panajachel was the first community to implement it.
Let’s first understand what this tax is about, and who has to pay it, then how you determine what is taxed and how much. And finally we will see some issues raised by the application of this tax.
What is IUSI?
- It is a tax on the fiscal value of bienes inmuebles (inmovable goods ) like land, buildings, structures…
- Basically it is a tax that is paid by every owner of property.
- It is an annual payment which can be divided into 4 quarterly payments.
What is excluded from the IUSI?
- Tools and machinery
- Schools, education centers, health centers, Social Centers for workers
- Crops with a life shorter than 3 years
What is the purpose of this tax?
To contribute to the development of the cities, villages.
How are the IUSI funds that are collected distributed?
The total amount collected is divided in 2 ways…
- 70% of the total is for the city collecting it to be invested in basic services and infrastructure.
- 30% goes back to the central government to be used in administrative and public expenses.
Objects of this tax are the persons who are owners or possessors of inamovible goods and beneficials owners of state goods
What is the basis used to calculate the tax?
The base used to calculate the assessment is composed of the following:
- Value of the land
- Value of the construction, permanent instalations and the improvments.
- Value of the permanent plantations
- Rural or urban nature
- Increase or decrease for geographic, hydrologic or topografic
How is the value determined to calculate the IUSI?
The value of the building is determined by
- Autovaluation made by the owners.
- Direct valuation made or approved by the City when they administer their IUSI according to the manual of valuation approved by the city/ town and validated by the Ministry of Finance.
- A professional valuator authorized by the DICABI
- New values consigned at the moment of a new change of ownership.
Range of the IUSI
Once the value of your property is determined, here are the applicable amounts per thousand.
- Up to Q 2,000.00, Exempted
- From Q 2,000.01 to Q20,000.00, Q2 per thousand
- From Q20,000.01 to Q70.000.00, Q6 per thousand
- From Q70,000.01 on up, Q9 per thousand
According to Article 10 of the law of IUSI the owners, possessors, renters or administrators of the land are obliged to:
- Attend to the citation sent by the entity managing the IUSI in your area either personally, or through a legal representative.
- Proportionate all the important information requested to establish, actualize and maintain the fiscal register
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why should I pay if only the Gringos or Chaleteros pay?
It seems that some villages only charge IUSI to the foreigners and chaleteros. It is discriminatory and anybody can file a complaint against the administering authority. Meanwhile, it doesn’t allow you to not comply as it is a legal tax. You pay, and then you can file a case for discrimination. Still the mayor might argue that charging the “chaleteros" is the first step in the implementation of their collection system.
If the village has been citing you, remember that for properties valued under Q2,000 NO taxes are paid, and under Q20,000 only Q40 a year is due. It may be that the authority is not very interested in collecting this small amount.
I don’t want to pay because I don ‘t agree on how they are spending my taxes, or I don’t want to support a corrupt system.
The mayor is elected democratically by his peers and makes and executes a budget. If you can't vote, you don’t have much to say, but you can support better candidates at times of elections. Not agreeing with the way the city, village or country is run doesn’t allow you to put yourself outside the legal framework. If you choose to live in a foreign country you have to abide by its laws, as you expect foreigners who come to live in your country to abide by that country's laws.
I already pay tax through the Boleto de Ornato
Though the Bolato de Ornato has to be paid at the beginning of every year, it is NOT the IUSI. The Boleto de Ornato is based on your INCOME not your land.
I have an OCRET contract. I’m renting the land so I don’t have to pay IUSI.
Partially correct. You don’t pay on the land value because you rent, but you do pay on the improvments you made on the land (house, pool, garage, etc).
My note: Since the tax base increases with an increase of total value, one may be better off keeping separate escrituras for separate parcels instead of combining them all into one escritura.
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From John Berry:
Last week there was another driver’s license clinic in Panajachel. Unfortunately it was not included in an earlier blog as we were not aware of it. The blog will try and be more on top of this and give some notice before the next clinic. It seems there are two a year slated for Panajachel and they are held in the large gymnasium off Santander.
As written in a previous blog, I have gone through the process and it is quite involved. I would say there are 15-20 stations one must go through on their way to getting the license. Though it is a somewhat complicated process there is definitely a feeling of satisfaction when completed.
Note of interest: A friend registered his motorcycle in Guatemala, in his name, over a year ago. He got pulled over by the police last week. They checked his vehicle tarjeta that indicated the registration date of the moto. He presented his valid U.S. drivers license. He was asked if he had a Guatemalan license, which he didn’t. He got a ticket for not having one because he had been here over a year. There is also a report that if one is NOT a resident of Guatemala one must go to Guatemala City to get a drivers license. In order to get a license in Panajachel you must be a resident.
Read more about obtaining a Guatemalan Driver's License in a previous blog post: http://santacruzlalaguna.weebly.com/blog/photo-of-the-week-this-week-pat-torpies-birthday-girl-rising-documentary-concert-2nd-inner-net-workshop-guate-drivers-license-rentalhouse-share-wanted-us-embassy
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Rainfall in Paxanax for the week of August 10-16: .8 inches or 2.032 cm.
Click this link to view the Rainfall Report on Google Drive: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1b6pM1oRFAZl-UdQzrF7a4XzKMDCb8V36it5Fcj4859I/edit?usp=sharing
Jeanne Mendez reports that the Lake level is down 6 inches since the end of June.
*** The Mayan glyph Kawoq symbolizes rain, lightning and thunder, water and air. It also represents the collective consciousness. ***
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