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Puerto Rico congresswoman introduces bill to extend the Child Tax Credit to island

By on January 8, 2019

SAN JUAN – Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González addressed the U.S. House floor Tuesday, urging Congress to act on the extension of the Child Tax Credit for Puerto Rico.

The congresswoman said “most of the children” in Puerto Rico live in poverty. “Fifty-eight percent are living under the federal rate of poverty, and thirty nine percent living under extreme poverty.” It added that the island’s “child population has dramatically decreased over the last decade due to migration to the United States,” making the need “to act towards the situation that children are facing in the Island” critically pressing.

In her floor speech about introducing the Child Tax Credit Equity for Puerto Rico Act, González said: “Under current law the Child Tax Credit only applies to families who are raising 3 or more children. In comparison, families living in the mainland are able to use this credit for having even 1 or 2 children.”

The purpose of the Child Tax Credit is to help families offset the expenses of raising children and lift themselves out of poverty, she explained.

Mississippi has the highest poverty level of any state but Puerto Rico’s, “now at 45 percent, is 178 percent higher” than Mississippi’s, González said. “According to the Census Bureau, Puerto Rico has the lowest household income at $19,775, compared with $43,441 in the state of Mississippi, and $61,372 nationally.”

This proposal, González added, would “help Puerto Rico’s economy and benefit about 355,000 families and 404,000 children.”

The bill, the release added, “covers a recommendation of the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico to minimize the challenges faced by Puerto Rican workers and maximize their opportunities.”

Although most Puerto Rican families do not pay federal income tax, “they do pay federal payroll taxes. Currently, families in Puerto Rico can use these federal payroll taxes to claim the Child Tax Credit if they have 3 children or more. However, only 12% of families in Puerto Rico have 3 or more children,” the release further says.

The proposal, according to González, would represent an about “$3 billion injection into Puerto Rico’s economy over the next decade, benefitting about 355,000 Puerto Rican families and 404,000 children with an average annual household payment of $770.”

This bill was co-sponsored by Reps. José Serrano (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Sean Duffy (R-WI).


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