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and wells, trapdoors, openings, and excavations must be inclosed. Boilers must be kept in the best condition for safety and proof against explosions.
Where there are dangerous machines or where dangerous substances are handled, it is obligatory to keep on hand materials for first aid for cases of accident to persons on the premises. Pensions and Workmen's Compensation.
Except for employees of railway, street railway, and telephone companies there is no general industrial insurance or pension law.
A law of June 12, 1916, however, regulates the question of indemnification of employees for accident. Copies of this law and its accompanying regulations are on file in the division of commercial laws for loan to inquirers. Trade Commissioner Livengood, summarizing the provisions of this law, points out that it covers an extended list of industries and in these industries affects employers of more than five workers. Some of the outstanding features of the law are the following:
The employer is not responsible in case of accident due to force majeure foreign to the work in which the accident occurs. Compensation is not required for injuries which do not result in the incapacity of the employee during a period of at least two weeks. The State, Provinces, and municipalities are bound by the provisions of this law.
When an accident results in absolute or permanent incapacity on the part of the laborer, his idemnity is fixed as an income equaling two-thirds of his annual salary. If the incapacity is partial, the rate is half of the decrease in salary caused by the accident. When the incapacity is temporary, the indemnity is equal to half of the salary which the worker was receiving at the time of the accident.
In case of death caused by the accident, if there be a surviving spouse, the latter shall receive an income for life equal to 20 per cent of the annual salary of the victim of the accident. Legitimate or legitimatized children of the victim whose mother survives, if less than 18 years of age or if incapacitated for work, shall receive an income as follows: From a minimum of 30 per cent to a maximum of 60 per cent of the renumeration of the victim, depending upon the number of children. In case the mother shall have died prior to the accident, the children shall receive a total income not greater than 50 per cent. In case no children exist, provision is made for other relatives and the scale of income is prescribed. Pensions to children dependents of the victim terminate when these arrive at their majority unless they are incapacitated.
In cases of an accident in an establishment whose equipment lacks the safety apparatus prescribed by law, indemnities shall be increased by one half. Provision is made for foreign workmen, victims of accidents, who desire to leave the country to receive in one sum the amount of pensions due them, and the method of determining this sum is specified.
Chiefs of establishments may free themselves from the obligation to pay expenses of illness and sustenance to which victims of accidents are entitled if the former provide proper insurance in legally constituted insurance companies. All workmen must be insured at the expense of the employers against accidents of labor.
TAXATION Taxes in Cuba are collected by the government and by the municipalities only, so that taxation is relatively simple. General taxes, besides special excises on liquors, beer, matches, soda water, tobacco, and playing cards, established by the law of January 25, 1904, and not taking into consideration customs duties, consist principally of the 8 per cent profits tax, the gross sales tax, the exportation of money tax, the documentary stamp tax, the income from real estate tax, and municipal taxes. The 4 Per Cent Tax on Profits Abolished by the Public Works Law.
Because of the difficulty of its enforcement and the small returns the 4 per cent tax on profits established in 1920 was abolished by the public works law of July 15, 1925, which modified other existing taxes and instituted certain additional ones. The public works law is a measure appropriating millions of dollars for the execution of a vast plan of public works throughout Cuba, including the construction of a network of highways, the institution of municipal sewerage and waterwork systems, the building of schoolhouses, hospitals, and the improvement of harbors and port facilities. The money thus appropriated is to be expended over a period of 10 years. The 8 Per Cent Profits Tax Revised.
To compensate the treasury for the loss of revenue from the dis- . continuance of the 4 per cent tax, an old tax created by the American Military Order 463 of 1900 was revived by decree of December 27, 1926. (See Special Circular No. 139, division of commercial laws.) This tax amounts to 8 per cent of the net profits of banks, corporations, and stock companies (but not partnerships or individuals), Railroads and shipping companies pay only 6 per cent, while insurance companies are charged 21/2 per cent on premiums collected. The 142 Per Cent Gross Sales Taxes.
A law of October 9, 1922, established a tax on gross sales, exchanges, or transfers of merchandise equivalent to 1 per cent of the price or value of the articles taxed. The rate was raised by the public works law of July 15, 1925, to 112 per cent.
The tax is of an “interior and national character ” and is payable on merchandise, whether of domestic production or imported and whether the sale is for cash or on account. An American firm exporting to Cuba does not pay the tax, but it is paid by the importer when he sells or disposes of the imports, or by the commission merchant or wholesaler at the customhouse. Quarterly declarations must be made by merchants and submitted to the tax collector of the local district (admistrador de contribuciones e impuestos de la zona o distrito fiscal). The tax is payable quarterly and when not paid is subject to an added charge of 25 per cent of the tax. Infringements of the law resulting in defrauding the treasury are punishable by a fine equal to the amount of the tax payable for the first offense and for the second offense a fine of not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for one year, or both.
Payment of the tax is affected by the purchase of stamps of the face value of the amounts shown on the declarations. These stamps
are affixed to a certificate which must be obtained by each merchant and posted in a prominent place in his place of business. The Exportation of Money Tax.
The public works law of July 15, 1925, established an excise of one-fourth of 1 per cent on all payments, assignments of funds, transfers of credits or securities or products, or similar operations which directly or indirectly imply the exportation of money or its equivalent from the national territory to foreign countries. The uncertainty of the terms of this tax was the subject of considerable comment when the bill was first proposed, and its full effect on international trade is not yet entirely apparent. From the message of the President accompanying the measure when it was first submitted to the Cuban Congress, it is evident that the intent was to tax dividends and earnings of foreign industrial, agricultural, and other enterprises in Cuba which are remitted abroad, as well as Cuban funds which are invested in foreign countries, and not to levy a tribute on ordinary trade transactions. The regulations, however, require the payment of the tax on all money sent out of the country for every purpose, even in payment for commodities purchased abroad. Incidence of Money Export Tax Not Equal.
Products shipped from Cuba are taxed provisionally under the regulations, the tax payment being deposited subject to refund if proof is presented that payment for the goods was received within 90 days. The object is to prevent the escape from taxation of the export of money in the form of domestic products, the fact that a refund is provided is recognition of the principal that ordinary international mercantile transactions are not within the purview of the tax. Nevertheless, drafts in payment for foreign goods sold to Cubans are subject to tax without refund or other recourse. As the regulations now stand, the export of a cargo of sugar for which payment of $5,000 representing the price is received within 90 days, does not constitute the export of money or wealth and is not permanently taxed, whereas the remittance of $5,000 in payment for a cargo of machinery or other commodity imported is subject to an unrefundable tax of $12.50. Stamp Tax on Documents.
In order to meet extraordinary war-time expense, a law of July 17. 1917, created a stamp tax applicable to a very comprehensive list of documents in different amounts. These include all kinds of notarial instruments, private receipts, commercial invoices, leases, insurance policies, negotiable instruments, summonses, and other legal processes, academic diplomas, and others. It was expected that this tas, which is considered a necessary war time nuisance tax, would be discontinued by the new public works law but it was not abrogated. Income from Real Estate Tax.
Under the public works law, the rent from country and city real estate, the income from mortgage credits, and the estimated value of unimproved property is taxed at the rate of 2 per cent. In municipalities where the real estate direct tax amounts to 10 per cent, the 2 per cent tax is not collected. This provision exempts all improved real estate within the city of Habana, because the direct territorial tax in this city amounts to 12 per cent. This, however, does not exempt Habana unimproved property. The tax is to be collected through the municipal authorities at the time of collection of the regular municipal territorial tax. All real estate which does not produce a rental will be taxed upon an estimate of 6 per cent of the appraised value, the 2 per cent tax being collected upon this estimated rental. No General Income Tax Expected.
In answer to an inquiry regarding the possibility of the enactment of a general income tax in Cuba, Trade Commissioner C. A. Livengood, Habana, writes as follows:
There has been no indication on the part of Cuban legislators or other men of influence that a general income tax law will be considered for Cuba at any early date. In fact, the matter has received no discussion. In view of the periodic protests against the taxes which are already levied, it seems probable that an early change in the Cuban system of taxation will be in the direction of curtailment rather than expansion. Of course, in case new bond issues should be made for purposes of road construction or otherwise, it is possible that additional taxes would be required; but even in the case of such issues we have seen no suggestion that a general income-tax law should be enacted. Municipal Taxes.
In each municipality all business concerns must obtain an annual license, which is graduated in cost according to the class of business in each city. The licenses in each class also differ in cost according to the size of the city, those for the city of Habana being the most expensive.
It is impossible to give here a schedule of these taxes, even for one city, but an indication of their cost may be made. Stores, for instance, for the sale of groceries, etc., pay from $275 to $385, to which is added 25 per cent as a provincial council tax. Importers pay up to $1,000 and commission merchants up to $500. The tax is payable in quarterly installments. Traveling salesmen pay a license tax in Habana.
In order to comply with this tax requirement, two copies of a blank form issued for the purpose should be obtained at the city hall. These should be filled according to the printed instructions and presented to the general receiving register at the city hall. The license is then granted after the inquiry and approval of the publichealth department. A preliminary fee of about $12 must be paid.
The penalty for opening a store or place of business without obtaining a license is the payment of a sum equal to twice the amount which should have been paid. In order to avoid this penalty care should be taken to ascertain the amount of the tax, which, although collected by the municipalities, is regulated by authority of a national law called Ley de Impuestos Municipales y Procedimiento de Cobranza, dated September 22, 1908. This law, together with forms and schedules, is published by J. V. Bonachea, Habana, in a second edition of 1924. Advice regarding the amount of this tax in particular cases may be obtained from the division of commercial laws or from the office of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce at Habana.
Municipal Territorial Taxes.
The public works law increases by 50 per cent direct taxes placed by municipalities on real estate. Thus taxes vary in the several municipalities. Miscellaneous Taxes.
The public works law places a tax of 10 cents per gallon on the consumption of gasoline and a surcharge of 10 per cent on the present import duties of all articles of luxury and 3 per cent on the duties fixed by the cụstoms tariffs on all other articles imported, except prime necessities. A transportation tax on vehicles is also created, as follows: Motor vehicles are subject to the following taxes:
50 From 120 to 128 inches wheel base_
60 From 128 to 135 inches wheel base.
50 From 142 to 242 tons capacity.
100 From 212 to 542 tons capacity
200 More than 512 tons capacity
400 Motor cycles of all kinds--
10 Trucks of more than 712 tons capacity are not permitted on the national highways. The following rates apply to animal-drawn vehicles:
30 Vehicles, four wheels, capacity up to 4 tons
5 Horse-drawn vehicles with a capacity of more than 4 tons will not be allowed on the public roads.
A special tariff is made for oxcarts for operation on public roads, but not on national highways, as follows:
Per annum 2-wheeled cart with rims exceeding 6 inches in width--- $12 4-wheeled cart, similar rims.--
10 2-wheeled cart, rims less than 6 inches in width. Carts other than oxcarts with rims more than 6 inches wide are taxed $5 per annum, with similar provision forbidding operation on national highways.
Carts, wagons, and other vehicles operated solely on private property up to a capacity of 500 pounds are exempt from taxation.
The reason for taxing according to width of the rim is that most of the damage at present done to public roads is chargeable to a heavy-wheeled type of ox-drawn cane cart used locally.
All of the above taxes are to be collected once a year by the municipal authorities, who will remit one-half of the sum to the national treasury and retain the other half for local use.