By Julie Etra
This article updates last year’s, adding new information and taking a slightly different perspective. All of us (foreigners and Mexicans) who own property in Mexico are supposed to pay property taxes, determined by the Municipio in which one resides. The tax, called a predial, pronounced ‘pray – dee – ahl,’ is based on neighborhood, square footage of the property, improvements, and other amenities such as ocean views. Technically taxes are due the first of the year, but with the holidays (Christmas, New Year’s, and then Día de los Reyes, or Epiphany), taxes can be paid as soon as the Municipio reopens for the New Year.
Starting in early January, transparent advertisements pasted on the rear windows of taxis announce big discounts on property taxes for on-time and semi-late payment. Fifteen percent in January, 10% in February, and 5% in March, what a concept! I am not really sure what happens if you don’t pay at all. Last year I was under the misconception that this offer only occurs in Santa María Huatulco, but it holds true for the entire country.
Along with the discount, taxpayers are eligible for a raffle, or rifa, held on the first day of the consecutive and following months. Another bonus here in Mexico is being older than 60. In addition to lots of discounts with your INAPAM (senior discount) card, you get a break on your property taxes (early payment and the INAPAM discount resulted in a 45% savings for us this year).
To qualify for the rifa, following payment, which can be done with a credit card, one simply fills out a ticket with your name and contact information (cell phone number, email address) and places half of a ticket stub in the Plexiglas box in the municipio office. This year the stakes, so to speak, were high, as the first rifa was for a Nissan stake-side truck. On February 1st potential winners showed up at 5:00 p.m. for the drawing at the Central Park (zocalo) in La Crucecita. A dais populated by local government officials and led by Mayor Darío Pacheco Venegas oversaw the seated and standing crowd facing the church.
First smaller items, such as blenders and toasters, were raffled off with young children selecting the winning ticket from the rotating Plexiglas barrel. The crowd remained attentive and enthusiastic, while tension built for the award of the featured truck. Finally two children picked the winning ticket. If I understood correctly, according to raffle protocol the winner does not have to be present, but must answer the phone number listed on the winning ticket; they are given two chances. Answering to their names on the tickets, the apparent winners were an older couple from an outlying village within the municipality. They explained that the phone belonged to their son, who was in Salina Cruz on the Isthmus.
Pacheco, with microphone in hand, called the cell phone. Ring, ring, “Bienvenidos a su buzon de voz” (the call went to voice mail).Uhoh. OK,call #2, with the same result. So we expected that another ticket would be selected from the barrel, but Pacheco, with the thin, elderly couple at his side, and the son unavailable to answer the call, asked the crowd to decide by raising in their hands in support, or not. As expected, the vast majority of the crowd raised their hands, and the title and keys were handed to the winning pair.