San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

There was a hum of voices coming from the Corona Salon on Tuesday morning (April 5, 2005) as home owners and local contractors sat in folding chairs and waited the arrival of Jose Luis Gonzalez Robles, Alberto Mario Isoto Ibarra and Pedro J. M. Castro Blanco. These were the keynote speakers who promised to clarify a muddy subject that has been a growing Meeting to Explain Social Security  Responisblitiesconcern for home builders in the San Felipe area --Social Security payments.

Unlike businesses north of the border, where an employee's Social Security payments are arranged by the business that employs them, Mexico seems to take a different approach. It follows the responsibility back to an entity that isn't directly involved in a project's chain of employment, in this case, the home owner. Ultimately, the person who is paying to have his or her home built must ensure that all their contractors' employees are having their Social Security payments met, either out of their own pocket or as part of the bid for building the home. Even if the payments are made on paper, as in a job bid, it was strongly suggested that proof of payments should be provided on a monthly basis to the home owner to ensure that the process is actually being performed. Seguro Social will provide a contractor with a monthly receipt as each payment is met. It was further suggested that the home owner hold back the final payment (in the amount equal to the Social Security payment for the project -typically 30% of the labor cost) until proof of payment is made by the contractor. Alternatively, the home owner can make the payments on their own at the Oficina de Seguro Social, prior to the 17th of each month.

A nervous ripple passed through the audience when they were told that even casual labor, someone hired for one day a week to do gardening, for example, was legally entitled to Social Security payments by their employer and Contractors in Attendancearrangements had to be made so payments could be established for them. And then outright panic and shock swept through the hall when everyone was informed that if they did not have a complete history of receipts for the construction of their homes and if the construction company was unable to produce any, then 37% of the appraised value of their house (based on square footage) would have to be paid to Social Security. A few people sat back with color slowly returning to their faces when it was mentioned this would only apply to homes built within the last five years.

Of course that begs the question, why only five years? Two reasons come to mind. Either Social Security acknowledges that not everyone clings to receipts for decades, or perhaps homes older than five years just aren't valuable enough to 'tax'. Within the last few years, serious money has been changing hands in San Felipe. Half million dollar homes have literally sprung out of the sand in developments both north and south of town. Golf courses and condo empires are squirming through the circuitous birth canals of bureaucratic paperwork. Perhaps the sound of all that lucre has awakened the percentage people.

When a deer mouse is born, the mother occults it from the eyes of eagles. It doesn't teach the infant to stand on its hind legs in the middle of a field and wave its arms. For many decades San Felipe was hidden, safe in its obscurity. Poverty was its mother and the paucity of its flesh was enough to discourage the predators. But the arm-wavers have arrived. They are converting sand into gold. Can the eagles be far behind?

If you have any questions about Social Security, here is contact information for the meeting's representatives.

Jose Luis Gonzalez Robles
Alberto Mario Isoto Ibarra
Pedro J. M. Castro Blanco
Phone: 686-555-5040
Phone: 686-555-5111
Phone: 686-555-5044