Puerto Rico says sales and use tax capture rate improving

Bonds

The rate of capture of sales and use taxes supporting the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp. (COFINA) bonds has improved, the Puerto Rico Treasury Department said.

The collection rate compared to the legally liable amount was 77% in fiscal 2022, a study by the Treasury’s Office of Economic and Financial Affairs showed. That compared to an estimated 61% level in fiscal 2011 and from 75% in fiscal 2021.

“Modernization and implementation of an advanced technological platform,” was cited for the added collections by Department Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea. “The SURI platform facilitates voluntary compliance by taxpayers, to the extent that it serves as a deterrent to evasion and through simplification, reduces time, and the cost of compliance for taxpayers.”

Tax evasion is a greater problem in Puerto Rico than in the 50 states. Puerto Rico local governments and, more recently, the Oversight Board have worked to reduce it.

The COFINA bonds were restructured in February 2019. Holders of the COFINA subordinate bonds have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, saying it owes them money due to the passage and application of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.

From July to January sales and use tax revenues were 1.1% ahead of those in the same period a year earlier and 12.1% ahead of forecast.

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