Monday, June 1, 2020

U.S. Treasury Has Yet to Issue Guidelines for Disbursing Individual Aid in Puerto Rico

By on April 1, 2020

Puerto Rico Treasury Department (Hacienda) headquarters in San Juan (CB file)

Meanwhile, Island Officials Continue to Work on Draft Plan

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s Treasury Department, known locally as Hacienda, is working on the draft of the plan it must submit to the U.S. Treasury and its Internal Revenue Service to be able to distribute individual federal aid and reimbursements to employers through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which the local officials hope can be carried out soon.

The Families First Law establishes credits to employers for what they paid as of April 1 to their employees under a new sick leave requirement, which would be disbursed through Hacienda.

Similarly, Hacienda must also issue the checks or electronically transfers the aid to individuals legislated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed Friday.

“There is still no specific date, but I can tell you that the federal secretary of the Treasury himself has expressed wanting to process these disbursements within a period of three weeks,” the island’s undersecretary of Internal Revenue, Ángel Pantojas, told Caribbean Business.

The official participated in a virtual meeting with the Treasury and the IRS on Wednesday afternoon, in which representatives of other U.S. territories also participated to “follow up on the discussions that began last week” and see how the work was going.

Hacienda must present to the Treasury and the IRS an estimate of the people who could receive these grants to determine whether it is consistent with the estimates budgeted federally for the island.

However, Treasury has not yet published the guidelines that will govern the process.

The IRS determined that to validate aid recipients it will first verify:

—Whether the person filed a federal return during tax years 2017, 2018, or 2019;
—if they did not file, they will resort to the information in the Social Security records;
—If the above-mentioned do not apply, a form requesting the aid must be filled.

In addition, the IRS said Social Security beneficiaries, veterans and disabled people who do not pay federal taxes must fill out the form to receive the aid.

Pantojas explained that the plan to distribute the aid to employers is ahead because the law was signed first, but that both must be ready to be presented at the same time.

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