Puerto Rico Treasury asks for time to evaluate earned-income tax credit
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Treasury Department has asked the island’s House Treasury Committee to postpone the consideration of a bill that seeks to reestablish the earned-income tax credit in order to include it with the tax reform the executive branch is expected to present soon.
Attorney Valerie Maldonado, who testified on behalf of the Treasury Department, said the credit, which was eliminated in 2014, would be apply to 484,512 income-tax returns and would result in $138 million less in revenue for the general fund, when calculated based on 2014 data. This represents half of the 946,000 returns filed that year.
“We respectfully request this committee to give Treasury the opportunity to evaluate and consider the terms proposed in this measure and any other related measures as part of the tax reform being worked on so that a full measure is presented that complies with capture-rate objectives, economic development and consideration for the most disadvantaged,” Maldonado said.
Treasury, however, acknowledged that the purpose of House Bill 732 is consistent with the Plan for Puerto Rico, which expresses the intention of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to advocate in U.S. Congress the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the federal earned-income tax credit.
The public hearing lasted about five minutes, or the time it took Maldonado to read Treasury’s testimony.
House Finance Committee President Antonio Soto was not present at the hearing. Rep. Maricarmen Mas presided it and Popular Democratic Party Rep. Jesús Santa was also present.
It is not the first public hearing Soto isn’t present for since the sexual scandal involving Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill came to light. Soto’s is one of the names floated d to replace O’Neill, whom the governor asked to resign 16 days ago.
At the time of the hearing, Soto was being interviewed on WKAQ radio, where he indicated he couldn’t say if he would replace O’Neill because the position “is not vacant,” although he said he is available to serve his people. He also asked for patience while investigations against the mayor of Guaynabo are conducted. O’Neill allegedly settled a sexual harassment suit by one of his employees, a municipal police officer.