Puerto Rico Treasury seizes 136 investment accounts in brokerage houses
The Puerto Rico Treasury Department confirmed the seizure of 136 investment accounts in local and US brokerages held by delinquent taxpayers, amounting to more than $3 million.
Agency Secretary Francisco Parés said the figure includes interest, surcharges, penalties, and garnishment costs.
“This action coordinated by the agency’s Revenue Bureau stemmed from the failure of taxpayers to address their debts and their inaction to approaches and available alternatives, with knowledge of the consequences that they could face as defaulters,” Parés said during a news conference at the agency’s Old San Juan headquarters.
“We’re disclosing the results of recent collection efforts that the Department carried out, which fell on deaf ears. After complying with due process of law, unfortunately we had to act against investment accounts and although these are not the actions we want to take, our responsibility is to put the house in order and collect resources that ensure the operation of the services offered to the people,” he said.
Treasury Department staff delivered 13 seizure letters to brokerage houses in Puerto Rico and another 123 were sent to brokerage houses in the US mainland, for a total of 136 seizures on investment accounts.
Parés explained that the information on debtors with accounts in brokerage houses was collected through the agency’s digital SURI platform “in just a few hours.”
“These enforcement and collection efforts are part of the work plan to fight tax evasion. We have identified some 6,000 additional cases that we’re evaluating, to proceed against their investment accounts,” he said.
“We’re acting on these people’s assets, because despite having the ability to pay, they insist on not complying with Treasury,” he said, urging debtors or defaulters to “voluntarily go to the Department to learn about payment alternatives and that once they reach the agreement, comply with it to avoid collection efforts.
Salary liens also in the pipeline
Meanwhile, Parés confirmed other control efforts that are being carried out, which include garnishment of wages and delinquent taxpayer accounts in credit unions.
In the case of wage embargoes, the process changed from manual to electronic, streamlining work, he said.
Now the agency’s SURI digital platform provides a functionality that allows Treasury to communicate with employers so that they can proceed with the corresponding discount through the platform.
“Technological advances continue to occupy a prominent place and we’re already at a level where we can identify debtors through our platform and electronically inform employers to make payments electronically,” he added.
They retain and remit payments to the Department monthly. In the case of employees, 25% is retained and up to 100% for contractors. Treasury gives taxpayer the chance to negotiate directly for a lower discount.
“These cases should make us reflect. By failing to comply with our tax duty and not using the alternatives that we make available to taxpayers, we put properties and lifetime savings at risk,” Parés said. “We continue to work against all types of evasion and we’re also available to seek reasonable solutions.”
Treasury is currently working on 6,500 cases of individuals and corporations that have defaulted on their payments, representing $93.3 million.