As Congress says they have a reached a deal on an overhaul of tax rates, Puerto Ricans say the bill could decimate their economy as the debt-saddled territory tries to recover from Hurricane Maria. Initial versions of the tax bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate proposed taxing U.S. companies on foreign earnings. Puerto Rico - an American territory whose 3.4 million residents are American citizens - is considered a foreign jurisdiction for tax purposes. Without an exemption from the new foreign earnings tax, drug and medical device makers that are the mainstay of the island’s economy would likely leave the territory, taking away jobs and prompting more Puerto Ricans to leave for the mainland.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly condemns in no uncertain terms “the design of the recent reduction in federal taxes that shift even more wealth to the wealthiest few while ignoring the poorest ”(213th General Assembly).
More broadly, as people of faith, we view decisions about tax policy and the federal budget as moral decisions. Simply put, this proposed legislation is fundamentally unjust.
According to estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, one condition of the bill, repealing the individual mandate for health insurance starting in 2019 will cause 4 million Americans to lose health coverage in 2019 and 13 million in 2027.
The current Tax Cut and Jobs Act is fiscally irresponsible. It would grow the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. This not only endangers America’s economic health, but it will also create enormous pressure to cut the safety net and critical human needs services to reduce this growing deficit and debt. As things stand, Congress is struggling to fund disaster assistance and prevent cuts to vital anti-poverty programs. We cannot afford to balloon the deficit with this bill and contend with the very tangible and pressing needs of our people—it violates principles of fiscal and moral stewardship.
Make a call in solidarity with our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters today to demand a “NO” vote on the tax bill!
Save this number in your phone: 1 800 826 3688 and dial it 3 times. The operator will direct you to your two Senators and your House member.