The Puerto Rico Treasury Department is waiting on its federal counterpart to issue the guidelines to cut $1,200 checks to eligible island residents as part of the CARES Act.
However, the agency announced that it is considering advancing the disbursements after the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico approved the local government’s request for a cash advance of up to $400 million to expedite the distribution of the transfers by using Commonwealth funds until the federal funds arrive.
“The Oversight Board expects that this advance of Commonwealth funds will be reimbursable in its entirety with federal monies,” it said in a statement.
“The Oversight Board understands that [Puerto Rico Treasury] will not release any recovery rebate payments to residents until after the required distribution plan is approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, minimizing any risk these funds would not be eligible for reimbursement,” the regulatory entity added.
Puerto Rico Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés said Puerto Rico is not the only jurisdiction waiting for federal authorities to move on the guidelines.
“The Oversight Board’s endorsement puts us in a better position so that as soon as the U.S. Treasury approves the guidelines, we can start sending out aid without further delay,” Parés said, adding several alternatives are being evaluated to cut the incentives checks.
“Talks with the Treasury and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are very advanced and while the guidelines are being defined, we’re taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the process is streamlined, coordinated and integrated. In addition, to advance the availability of funds, we are making technical adjustments to the Unified Internal Revenue System (SURI, in Spanish), to begin immediately,” he said.
The U.S. government signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on Mar. 27 to grant among other benefits, financial aid to residents of the United States and its territories, to face the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Total aid to Puerto Rico exceeds $ 3 billion.
To disburse the aid included in the CARES Act economic package, Parés said “in principle, the available information included in income tax returns for the year 2019 will be used, similar to the provisions of the IRS,” he said, urging people who have not filed as of today, to do so.
According to the statement issued by the IRS on Mar. 30, 2020, people with a Social Security number will receive a check for $1,200 or $2,400 per married couple, with income of less than $75,000 or $150,000, between the two. The amounts are decreasing as income increases.