Puerto Rico tax amnesty shores up $255M, beats expectations

Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta

Puerto Rico Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta said Monday the tax amnesty that concluded June 30 shored up $255 million for the government, beating expectations by 27 percent. The agency initially projected it would collect $200 million through the campaign.

The amount may increase even further after all transactions are posted today, she said.

“I am extremely pleased that we exceed our collection goals, even when we had less time and this amnesty was more complex because it included sales and use tax debts for the first time,” Acosta said. “Amnesties in the past have generated $200 million in six months on average. This amnesty only lasted two months, it was approved in late April.”

The agency received $79.6 million in cash and $175.7 million in 22,742 payment plans, for a total of $255.3 million, she said.

Of the money collected, $8 million will be earmarked to support the agency’s goal of fighting sales and use tax-related tax evasion.

“The portion of funds earmarked for Treasury will be used to improve oversight and sales and use tax uptake by hiring additional staff, updating and modernizing the agency’s information systems,” she said.

In related news, Treasury announced that as of Monday, school textbooks and notebooks would no longer be subject to sales tax year-round. Acosta also announced two tax-free back-to-school periods — July 12-13 and Jan. 9, 2014 — to purchase supplies and uniforms.

Tax exempt books will be included in official school and university lists, while materials to be sold tax-free include everything from backpacks to loose-leaf paper.

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