About $21M in 2nd local stimulus already distributed
Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig disclosed Friday that they have already distributed about $21 million for the second Local Economic Impact Payment, also known as local stimulus, and that they are now working on the last batch of pending error-free income tax returns.
Speaking at a radio press briefing, Atalig said their first batch of local stimulus amounted to about $18 million and that they already probably spent an additional $2 million to $3 million.
The administration set aside a total of $25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the second local stimulus that would give $500 to each eligible filer and dependent in the CNMI.
As to why there are some who have not received their stimulus cards yet, Atalig said the second round of stimulus requires a tax filer to have an error-free tax return.
The first batch of 23,000 taxpayers and their dependents have already received their stimulus.
Atalig said they order stimulus cards every two weeks and since the initial batch, they already issued about 4,000 more cards.
“Last week, we should be going through pretty much the last batch of pending error-free tax return. I don’t have the details, there’s not a lot more waiting unless they have issues with their tax returns,” he said.
Atalig noted that a lot of taxpayers have the errors where they did not report their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance income, or they did not report other additional income received.
“So it puts an error into their file,” he said, adding that a lot of people have changed dependents in their tax returns and Tax and Revenue needs to verify if the information about their dependents are accurate.
“So there’s a lot of different issues. Those are just some examples that delay the stimulus cards going out,” Atalig said.
The Finance secretary, however, pointed out that the local stimulus program goes all the way to Dec. 31, 2022.He said a tax filer must clear his or her 2021 tax return and be error-free by Dec. 31, 2022, in order to quality for this program.
“And if you do have a stimulus card, you must spend these funds before Jan. 30, 2023,” Atalig said. He said they need to make sure that these funds that are given out are used and that the whole purpose of the stimulus cards is to stimulate the CNMI’s economy and to help the local business community—not to give out and have someone save it.
“We want you to use it,” he said.
Atalig said they are not holding back the stimulus cards as they are ordering every other week for those that clear and it takes about two weeks to get them.