Puerto Rico is a Possession of the United States

Puerto Rico is legally a territory of the United States, but it is frequently referred to as merely a “possession” in federal legislation and official statements.

Federal legislation often defines Puerto Rico as a possession.  One prominent example is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Another is Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act of 2010.

Internal Revenue Service official guidance documents refer to Puerto Rico and the other territories as “possessions.”

Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT), a Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, consistently and repeatedly called Puerto Rico a possession in his testimony during the Committee’s May 15, 2012 hearing, “Tax Reform: What It Could Mean for Tribes and Territories.”

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