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Puerto Rico’s self-employed individuals with staff now eligible for up to $1,500 incentive

The Department of Economic Development and Commerce and the Treasury Department have reached an agreement so that those people who do business individually and have employees may receive an economic incentive of up to $1,500 — the same as a small and medium-sized company — to compensate for losses related to the COVID-19 emergency.

The DDEC (in Spanish), opened the process for small- and mid-sized companies to apply for the $1,500 incentive that they were assigned in the government’s economic relief packaged announced last week. So far, 4,442 applications have been registered online and some 2,718 accounts have been created pending delivery of the form.

Some 40,000 entrepreneurs are expected to benefit from this economic aid, Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy said.

However, prior to the application process, concerns were raised from the private sector, given that self-employed people — estimated at 170,000 — applied for the $500 incentive provided through the Treasury Department, but were initially limited from also applying for the larger incentive, although they met the qualifications.

“Given this, we managed to eliminate the requirement that indicated that the merchant who requested the $500 incentive from Treasury, could not qualify for the $1,500 stimulus from the DDEC,” said Laboy.  

This means that now, an entrepreneur whose business has 50 or fewer employees and annual revenue not exceeding $10 million and who requests the DDEC incentive, must be registered as a merchant in Treasury’s Unified Internal Revenue System (SURI, in Spanish) and have their Merchant Registration Certificate in effect as of Mar. 15, 2020.

In the case of those entrepreneurs registered in SURI whose Merchant Registration Certificate expired as of Mar. 15, 2020, must renew it prior to requesting the incentive and, in addition, certify that operations have not closed down. To pay the incentive, the entrepreneur must confirm, through the DDEC’s online application, their bank account number and routing number where the money will be deposited.

Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés urged “all eligible self-employed people…to continue to apply for the $500 incentive, whether or not they are employers. This is the fastest way to receive this benefit immediately.”

He added that Treasury will notify the DDEC of the people who get the $500 incentive, so that when the latter agency processes their applications, they are able to determine whether an additional $1,000 or $1,500 will be disbursed.

“Given the large volume of visits and requests for applications, technical adjustments had to be made in the system to increase its capacity, so that the emails issued with the form are sent as quickly as possible to the applicant,” Laboy said.

Meanwhile, Parés said earlier in the day that SURI received some 84,100 applications for the $500 incentive for eligible self-employed individuals in 40 hours since its launch on Monday. He will announce when the first wave of deposits is successfully completed, he said.

To apply for the DDEC’s economic incentive, visit: www.refuerzoeconomico.com. Questions may be submitted via email to: empresario@ddec.pr.gov.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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