The Department of Finance is set to release the first batch of tax rebates and refunds by the end of the month.
Finance Secretary David Atalig gave this assurance to those who’ve been wondering if they would get their checks this year in the face of work hour cuts and the government’s cash flow problems.
Atalig said that rebates and refunds are different from the child tax, which is funded federally by the Internal Revenue Service. “The rest of the tax refunds/rebates are from the general fund. We are finalizing our final testing of the taxpayers’ submissions with our tax system.”
“The first batch of refunds/rebates will be those with no errors and with child tax credits, and we hope to process them for payment by the end of the month,” he said.
He added that they would inform the public if there are any changes. “For the remaining batch of refunds, we need to ensure funds are available before release. We will keep the public informed and press release of this information is forthcoming.”
Atalig reported to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres last month that revenue collection for the second quarter—January to March—of the current fiscal year saw a slight 3-percent increase, as the CNMI continues to recover from the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yutu.
However, Atalig said, the numbers remain low. “We were able to collect revenues to cover our obligations. However, our available cash resources are not at levels I am comfortable with to operate our government.”
House Ways and Means Committee chair Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) also said Atalig is trying his best to evenly distribute the funds. “Whatever cash he has, he has to balance it, he has to balance it so that everybody gets something”
Atalig said the government continues to fulfill its bond obligations and Settlement Fund payments, as they await the decision of the Marianas Public Land Trust on Torres’ line of credit request.
“We are prioritizing the Settlement Fund payments (75 percent of their pension) and meeting our weekly obligation, including the 25 percent from the CNMI government. We have paid our bonds with current collections and paid our payroll obligations,” said Atalig.
“We seek MPLT’s assistance to relieve us of these major obligations. And should they approve our LOC, it will help us pay our other obligations to the Public School System, the Northern Marianas College, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and vendors.”