The Puerto Rico Treasury Department is embarking on a pursuit of thousands of taxpayers who defrauded the government’s coffers either by under-reporting on their income taxes or failing to file altogether, agency Secretary Melba Acosta said Thursday.
The suspected evaders skipped out on paying some $80 million in taxes on more than $512 million in income in 2008 — and likely repeated the infraction in subsequent years — according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group hired to probe local tax evasion, Acosta said Thursday.
“Based on that information, which matched W2s with tax returns on file, we’ll be sending out letters to the people identified,” said Acosta.
The probe launched by the prior Gov. Luis Fortuño administration revealed that fraud occurred in several ways: either taxpayers submitted W2s but reported more or less than the amount stated on the document in their tax returns — to either pay less or get a refund — or failed to submit the W2 altogether.
“That was in 2008, but the study shows similar patterns for tax years 2009, 2010 and 2011,” she said. “When you look up Social Security numbers, in many cases they’re recurring.”
“We’ll be sending out letters for those years, we don’t know exactly how many yet, but we want to notify the taxpayers and let them explain before submitting the 2012 tax return,” Acosta noted.
The measure is one of several Treasury is implementing to plug tax evasion and shore up more revenue for the cash-strapped government, she said.