The $1,200 stimulus checks provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that some Puerto Rico residents are already receiving respond to specific circumstances that don’t apply to everybody on the island, Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés said.
Furthermore, he said local residents who are eligible for the benefit could begin seeing the money deposited into their accounts later this month.
“We’re aware that some Puerto Rico residents have already started receiving the federal benefit directly from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. According to recent conversations with staff at that federal agency, recipients are federal government employees, individuals who earn income from U.S. sources, and Social Security beneficiaries who get the Social Security Administration SSA-1099 information sheet, for the most part,” Parés said.
Furthermore, the IRS confirmed that the tool it enabled on its website so that people who do not file taxes can request the incentive is not for Puerto Rico residents, Parés said.
“However, they told us the tool is not programmed to exclude residents of the island. This means that there could be people who request help through the IRS tool, and it allows them to complete the process and, according to the IRS they will most likely receive the payment,” he said.
“However, although the IRS allows island residents to complete the process through the online tool, it doesn’t mean that they must do it because the federal agency may implement unfavorable measures such as surcharges, interests and other penalties,” said Parés.
The U.S. Department of Treasury submitted a plan that includes a mechanism to identify those people who have already received the deposit directly from the IRS to avoid a duplicate payment.
The CARES Act establishes a $1,200 refundable credit to every individual or resident who has a social security number. The law requires the U.S. Department of Treasury to coordinate with the territories how to distribute the benefit.
The Puerto Rico Treasury Department has already complied with Section 2201 of the CARES Act and submitted the plan to disburse the benefit to Puerto Rico residents, Parés said.
“We’re awaiting the U.S. Treasury’s approval. As soon as the plan is approved, instructions will be issued on how residents of Puerto Rico can register to receive the benefit. Meanwhile, we are working on the designing the phased distribution and the technological infrastructure to implement it,” he added.
He explained that the process will be in phases that will begin with the taxpayers who filed the 2019 and 2018 returns and with the people who receive Social Security, who will most likely receive it directly in their accounts.
“For those who don’t file a return and don’t receive Social Security or any government aid, we’re working on a tool through SURI, which will not require an account, nor that people register to access,” Parés said.
“The tool will require them to answer, in a simple way, some basic questions to be able to get the bank account information where the direct deposit will be made,” he said, adding the agency is “moving forward” in creating the tool, which is being tested.
“When U.S. Treasury approves the plan, we will immediately begin disbursements since we have authorization from the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico to use $400 million from the secretary’s account to advance payments and then request a refund,” he added.
The federal aid will not be subject to any deduction related to outstanding tax debts, Parés said.