Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló urged Congress to consider Puerto Rico in the federal tax reform and to include the island in the Supplemental Disaster Relief Package that will attend the different natural disasters registered in the nation to ensure equal treatment for American citizens residing on the island.
He warned that if Congress does not consider Puerto Rico as a jurisdiction of the United States in tax matters, it will cause the exodus of companies that generate 42 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the loss of jobs on the island, and therefore more Puerto Ricans moving to the mainland, causing an increase in the expenses to other states.
At the same time, Rosselló explained during a news conference in Washington that the passage of hurricanes Irma and María devastated the public and private infrastructure of Puerto Rico, causing losses estimated at $94 billion.
According to the request of federal assistance for disaster recovery that was presented Monday at the White House and Congress, 472,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged after Hurricane María’s landfall.
In addition, the document outlined an evaluation of the impact on the electricity system, the health system, agriculture, social services, economic development, communications infrastructure, roads and bridges, ports, and airports.
At the same time, damages have been estimated for the structures that house public agencies; the water facilities and water quality control; the sanitary sewer and drainage system; the schools and the education system; natural and environmental resources; as well as the coordination of public safety and emergency response.
In a letter attached to the request of federal assistance for disaster recovery sent to the President Donald Trump, Rosselló said, “the scale and scope of the catastrophe in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María have no historical precedent.”
“The devastation throughout the island represents an extraordinary challenge for American citizens residing in Puerto Rico and for the federal government,” he said. “A challenge that I am sure we can overcome because the United States is the undisputed world leader in the response to disasters and because the determination of the people of Puerto Rico is powerful.”
Meanwhile, in tax matters, he noted that the “jobs created in Puerto Rico are American jobs.” Therefore, to promote the creation of jobs and the economic development of the island, it is necessary to ensure that the federal tax reform establishes that:
- Products manufactured in Puerto Rico, which are imported into the United States, are domestic products. Therefore, the excise tax of 20 percent for merchandise manufactured abroad proposed in the draft bill of the federal tax reform should not apply.
- The repatriation tax for profits invested in Puerto Rico should not apply to domestic companies that employ American citizens on the island, as long as they have a commitment to remain operating in Puerto Rico for a minimum of eight years and maintain more than 50 percent of their assets, tangible and intangible, in Puerto Rico.
- Taxes whose purpose is to avoid the erosion of the United States tax base (minimum annual contribution) should not to apply to Puerto Rico, because the island must be considered as part of the American nation.
Meanwhile, Congressman José E. Serrano, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, and Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez, co-chairs of the newly formed Puerto Rico Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, expressed their support of Rossello’s emergency supplemental appropriations request for post Hurricane María recovery efforts.
“Almost two months after Hurricane María, most of Puerto Rico is still in the dark and too many lack access to potable water. While last month’s disaster supplemental was a start in the recovery effort for Puerto Rico, much more needs to be done to help the island address the ongoing crisis in a comprehensive manner,” they stated jointly.
“The governor’s request outlines the scale of assistance that is needed to help Puerto Rico get back on its feet. We are united in our efforts to help the island, and will be doing everything possible to ensure that Puerto Rico fully recovers,” they added.