GOP tax invoice ‘devastating for Puerto Rico,’ San Juan mayor says

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has a message for Home Republicans: Your tax invoice would crush us.

“It is devastating for Puerto Rico,” Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz advised CNNMoney on Tuesday. “It will kill any likelihood now we have of placing collectively a plan for sustained development that might repopulate the island.”

The Home GOP invoice has a provision that Puerto Rican leaders say quantities to a tax on items manufactured on the island and exported to the mainland United States.

The invoice would apply a 20% excise tax to funds made by corporations on the mainland to their subsidiary companies in Puerto Rico. Firms on the island are already thought of international firms, although they’re working in a U.S. territory and using Individuals.

Home Methods and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady advised reporters on Tuesday that particulars about how the invoice would have an effect on Puerto Rico have been nonetheless being labored out.

“There are a listing of choices we’re working by means of to attempt to arrive at the very best method,” he mentioned.

Related: U.S. general leads troops out of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, and solely 56% of the island’s energy is again up and working two months after the storm hit.

Yulin mentioned the timing of the tax plan could not be worse.

“You need to surprise, what thoughts thinks that imposing a tax on items and providers in a economic system that is in a coma, it is going to assist?” she mentioned. “That could be a thoughts that actually doesn’t keep in mind the wants of the Puerto Rican individuals.”

Individuals have been already fleeing Puerto Rico due to an 11-year recession. Many consultants say the recession was triggered when Congress killed tax breaks that Puerto Rico supplied corporations as an incentive to function subsidiary companies there.

The harm brought on by Maria might exacerbate the departures. The Heart for Puerto Rican Research at Hunter School in New York estimates that as many as 213,000 Puerto Ricans will go away the island due to the hurricane.

That inhabitants decline, coupled with the potential tax invoice, would make it onerous to keep up the island’s almost 70,000 manufacturing jobs. Most of these jobs are in Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical trade. Leaders worry an elevated tax burden, on prime of the hurricane restoration issues, would trigger corporations to go away the island.

Related: Puerto Rico kills $300 million contract with Whitefish

Yulin and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello do not at all times see eye to eye on politics, however they do share an opinion on the tax reform.

“If the aim of this tax reform is to carry again jobs to america, one should emphasize that Puerto Rico is a part of america and due to that the island cannot be thought of as a international jurisdiction,” Rossello mentioned in an announcement on Monday.

Tax consultants aren’t positive why Puerto Rico and different U.S. territories are thought of international nations underneath the tax code, although their residents are Individuals. Some surmise that the availability within the Home tax invoice wasn’t meant to have an effect on the island.

“No person thought of Puerto Rico. … It is simply an accident that the difficulty is arising,” mentioned Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow on the City-Brookings Tax Coverage Heart.

Related: How a month of nightmares changed Puerto Rico

Others imagine lawmakers will change the language so Puerto Rico is not hit onerous.

“I do not suppose there’s anybody in Congress that desires to crush Puerto Rico,” says Cate Lengthy, an skilled on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Yulin, the mayor of San Juan, is not so assured. She praised Democratic leaders like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for listening to Puerto Rico’s considerations. However the tax invoice has been drafted solely by Republicans.

“The Republican management has mentioned, ‘We’ll change it, we will change it,’” Yulin mentioned. “Nevertheless it would not change. And there is been sufficient time already to time change it.”

CNNMoney (New York) First printed November 29, 2017: 10:27 AM ET

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