Gov’t haul down $67M in Jan., sales tax revenue up 2.6%
Puerto Rico Treasury Department collections totaled $665 million in January, a 9 percent, or $67 million, drop from what the government reported during the same month last year, agency Secretary Melba Acosta said Tuesday.
In a statement, the agency attributed the drop to a combination of a year-over-year decrease in income tax collections ($54 million) and excise taxes ($9 million). When comparing collection figures for the month to the numbers in the projected budget, the number fell short by $117 million, she said.
“January revenues further opened the fiscal gap reported in December between the actual and estimated revenues by the previous administration for this period,” said Acosta.
In cumulative terms, revenue for the first seven months of fiscal 2012-13 decreased by $187 million when compared to the previous year and by $375 million against the amount estimated and included in the government’s budget.
Meanwhile, sales and use tax collections totaled $124.5 million in January, which represented a 2.6 percent increase when compared year-over-year. Acosta said the government covered the $619 million in IVU collections earmarked for the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation, known as COFINA, which is used to back government bond issues.
Treasury is working on implementing multiple administrative measures and evaluating amendments to provisions of the Internal Revenue Code to increase compliance, tackle evasion and increase revenues. The agency has already implemented measures such as the imposition of a fixed 4 percent excise tax to foreign companies and a “significant increase” in the seizure of bank accounts of tax evaders, she said.
In its report, Treasury explained that $42 million of the income tax revenue losses recorded last month were due to a drop in nonresident retentions. The agency received a one-time special payment in January 2012 not available this year.
Meanwhile, the agency noted that excise taxes dropped due to a $15.6 million reduction in excise taxes collected from foreign corporations through Law 154 attributed to a tax rate adjustment. January collections were $136 million, in comparison to the same month last year, when the figure reached $152 million.
The only excise tax line item that showed an improvement is linked to motor vehicles, which registered a 20 percent, or $6.7 million, increase when compared year-over-year. Revenue accrued under this category for the July to January period totaled $254.6 million, compared with 2012, when the figure totaled $236.5 million, representing a total increase of 8 percent. Half of the increase is attributed to an jump excise tax collections on cars priced between $21,380 and $31,780, the agency said.