Torres: Tax rebates out by month’s end


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres assures taxpayers that delayed tax rebates for fiscal year 2018 should be out before Sept. 30, 2019, right before the start of fiscal year 2020.

In an interview yesterday, Torres said that pending income tax rebates will be distributed by batches definitely before Sept. 30, 2019.

“Our income tax should be released in the next couple of weeks,” he said, adding that it would be released “for sure.”

“Hopefully, within the next month, everybody should get their [tax rebates]. If not, please check [for] deficiencies…so you can take care of those deficiencies.”

Torres previously told Saipan Tribune that the issuance of the fiscal year 2018 tax rebates depended on how soon the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimburses the CNMI government for the expenses it incurred to rebuild the islands after Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.

Torres clarified yesterday that the CNMI government has yet to receive the Super Typhoon Yutu reimbursements from FEMA. He did not specify a timeline on when the CNMI can expect to get those reimbursements and where the rebate money would come from.

“…Our general revenue and our costs had been used for Super Typhoon Yutu [recovery],” he stated. “…If we are not getting the [money for tax rebates] from [FEMA], then we are getting it elsewhere.”

“We do have money from the Marianas Public Land Trust [fund] and other resources. Those resources that we have is to pay for [Super Typhoon expense costs],” he added.

When sought for clarification on the funding source of the tax rebate funding, Finance Secretary David Atalig said the money would come from FEMA reimbursements and Business Gross Revenue Tax collections.

“I am trying my best to release the tax refunds by end of the month,” he told Saipan Tribune yesterday. “Source of funding would be FEMA reimbursements we are expecting soon and additional BGR tax collections.”

Atalig previously told Saipan Tribune that the usual time for tax rebate distributions are at the end of May to early July. So far, the department had only distributed several batches of the child tax rebates, which are federally funded.

The delay in the tax rebate distribution is being blamed on the expenses the CNMI government incurred to rehabilitate the islands after Yutu. The money in the tax rebate trust account—the special government account that sets aside funding for the tax rebate purposes— went to funding Super Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts, according to Atalig.

In all, the fiscal year 2018 tax rebates amount to a total of nearly $21 million, $11 million of which are child tax rebates. In fiscal year 2017, there was a total of $26 million in total tax rebates, with over $8 million in child tax rebates.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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