The delayed tax refunds would most likely be issued once the CNMI government starts to receive federal reimbursements for the CNMI government’s expenses in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu, according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.
Torres noted in an interview over the weekend that the tax refunds for fiscal year 2018 would most likely start being distributed once reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are received.
“The money that we [had] was used for Yutu recovery,” he told Saipan Tribune without clarifying where the money came from. “We are hoping that once we get [federal] reimbursements, then we will give out the tax refunds. Hopefully within the month.”
Finance Secretary David Atalig said that the ideal date for the release of the annual tax refunds is in late May or early June.
Tax refunds are locally funded while child tax rebates are federally funded.
The Finance Department is currently processing their fourth batch of child tax rebates.
Atalig said in a previous statement that the CNMI government is still identifying funding sources for the tax refunds. However, because of Super Typhoon Yutu last October 2018, tax collections have been relatively dry.
He attributed the delay in the tax refunds to “the huge amount expended for the response and recovery of Super Typhoon Yutu and the slow process of getting reimbursed by FEMA” as well as the hampered revenue collections that followed.
This year’s total tax rebate and refunds amount to nearly $21 million, $11 million of which are child tax rebates. Last year, there were a total of $26 million in total tax rebate and refunds, with over $8 million in child tax rebates.
Since July 2, 2019, the Finance Department has been releasing child tax rebates as they are made available and when Finance obtains the authority to drawdown the funds.
“[I am] asking for the patience and understanding of all our CNMI taxpayers, as the administration is doing its best to secure funding for the release of all tax rebates and refunds. It is a priority to get these funds into the hands of families so that it can assist them in their financial needs, as we are still all recovering from Super Typhoon Yutu,” Atalig told Saipan Tribune in an earlier statement.