DEPARTMENT of Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig on Friday said a local stimulus of $500 for all CNMI taxpayers is in the works and is anticipated to be released sometime between late July and early August this year.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act and under the direction of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Atalig and the Division of Revenue and Taxation have been tasked with issuing out this local stimulus based on 2019 and 2020 tax information, on top of releasing tax refunds, federal stimulus, and advanced child tax credits.

“This will boost our direct assistance to our households here in the CNMI,” Atalig said. “We earlier said we would have this by the end of July. We are still working on it... We want to ensure that everyone is on the list to get their local stimulus…so I ask our local residents to be patient with us.”

He added, “We’re doing our best to be on top of the normal tax refunds cycle. We [also] have the advanced child tax cycle as well as this local stimulus.”

Atalig said Finance is trying to hire people to help with data entry.

“Unfortunately, until we get a new revenue management information system, things still go through the old manual data entry. And so, please be patient with us as we do our best to get all of these monies out to our people. You know me; I’ve always mentioned this in the past: I want to get these monies out as soon as possible so that we can have this money circulating in our economy.”

Tax refunds

As for tax refunds, Secretary Atalig said Finance has been releasing tax refunds on a weekly basis.

The department initially sent out over 20,000 tax refunds and continues to release tax refunds as people submit their tax returns.

“Every day, we’re going through all those [tax returns] and releasing as soon as we can,” Atalig said. “So, if you haven’t had your tax refunds, I ask you to be patient. We’re still working, entering every week and releasing.”

This year, “instead of waiting to enter everything at once and then have a massive batch go out, tax returns that are entered into the system and are error-free are released,” he added.

“We started releasing tax refunds so that we can get these monies to the people that really need them.”

He said his department is entering tax information every day.

He also noted that a tax document form stating that a taxpayer did not receive his/her second or third stimulus needs to have been submitted with his/her tax return.

"Then that would trigger...your stimulus payment along with your refund,” Atalig said.

Advanced child tax credit

Those with children 17 years of age or younger may also receive advanced child tax credits, he added.

The Internal Revenue Service will begin releasing monthly advanced child tax credits in the U.S. as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Every family qualified for child tax credits and with a child between the ages of 6 and 17 will receive $3,000 of this tax credit.

Those with children 5 years of age or younger will receive $3,600 per child.

Atalig said this comes out to about $250-$300 per month per child in advanced child tax credits for the rest of the calendar year.

“I want to assure the Commonwealth that we are waiting anxiously for an agreement with the IRS. Once we get an agreement signed with the IRS, then we should be getting the funding to release these monthly checks to our families that need these monies,” he said.

He added that taxpayers in the states will receive these tax credits way in advance compared to taxpayers in the U.S. territories.

“We expect to get an answer hopefully by the end of the month with IRS and have a signed agreement on this program, then start releasing these advanced checks to our families here in the Commonwealth,” Atalig said.

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