U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand joined colleagues to announce bicameral legislation that would help hardworking low- and moderate-income American families in Puerto Rico. Similar legislation was included in the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) that passed the House of Representatives last month. The bill enhances Puerto Rico’s local Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by providing a 3:1 federal match, in which the federal government provides three dollars for every dollar provided by the island. The bill was introduced by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and is also sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
New York has the largest population of Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland. Over 30% of New York’s Latino community is Puerto Rican.
“Puerto Ricans have been resilient through unimaginable adversity, from destructive natural disasters, to the global COVID pandemic, a political crisis, and now preparing for an upcoming hurricane season,” said Senator Schumer.“Our fellow American citizens on the island are counting on Congress’ assistance in these uncertain times, and federal support of the Earned Income Tax Credit is the first immediate step we can take to help families in most need. Democrats will continue fighting tooth and nail so that Puerto Rico has equal access to the resources they need without bureaucratic delays.”
“We have a moral obligation to support our fellow American citizens living in Puerto Rico whose resilience continues to be tested by a string of natural and economic disasters,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As they focus on rebuilding what was already a struggling economy before the pandemic, Congress must act to ensure that no American, whether they are on the mainland or in Puerto Rico, is left to struggle alone.”
Currently, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories are not allowed to participate in the federal EITC. These rules deprive American citizens residing in those territories of tax relief they would otherwise have to access if they lived on the U.S. mainland. The legislation would provide critical tax relief to those in Puerto Rico by instructing the U.S. Department of Treasury to make payments to all U.S. territories of 75 percent of the relative cost of each territory’s EITC. The territories must provide Treasury with annual reports on the estimate of costs and a statement of costs with respect to the preceding year. Puerto Rico’s local EITC costs the island about $204 million a year. By providing a 3:1 federal match, the legislation would provide Puerto Rico up to $612 million for the first year.
Full text of the bill can be found here.