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Equality for Puerto Rico and the 2015 Budget

The 2014 Federal Budget has just gone to the President from the Senate, but it’s not too early to think about the 2015 budget.

Rep. Pierluisi wrote a letter to the co-chairs of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status asking for fiscal equality for Puerto Rico when it comes to federal programs designed to help families and individuals.

Pierluisi asked that the Administration include in its Fiscal Year 2015 budget request to Congress the following proposals:

  • To extend the child tax credit to eligible families in Puerto Rico with one child or two children, since, according to the Task Force’s 2011 report,  “in practice, Puerto Rican families with fewer than three children are generally not able to claim the child tax credit even if they are paying Federal payroll taxes.” The Task Force recommended extending the tax credit, but to date no such action has been taken.
  • To “eliminate or mitigate disparities” in federal programs which currently treat Puerto Rico differently from the states, including the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Medicare Part B, and the incentives offered under the HITECH Act.

Pierluisi pointed out that Puerto Rico’s inequality under these federal programs contributes to the economic distress of Puerto Rico’s people:

  To illustrate, consider a married couple with two children living in Florida that earns $25,000 a year, and then consider an identical family living in Puerto Rico.  Both families owe the same federal payroll taxes.  But the Florida family would receive over $6,000 in refundable federal tax credits under the child tax credit program and the earned income tax credit program, for a final income of over $30,000.  By contrast, the Puerto Rico family, because it is ineligible for these credits, takes home less than $24,000.

At a time when Puerto Rico is suffering extreme financial distress, it seems particularly important to offer equal treatement to the U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico.

Read the complete letter.

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