82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesGottlieb Urges Feds to Reconsider Cover-Over Decision

Gottlieb Urges Feds to Reconsider Cover-Over Decision

Debra Gottlieb, director of the Virgin Islands Office of Management and Budget, has sent a letter to federal officials urging them to reconsider the rate they used in calculating the territory’s anticipated revenue from rum taxes for the coming fiscal year.

According to a statement released Sunday by Government House, Gottlieb’s letter, addressed to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Eileen Sobeck, argues the Virgin Islands governor decides the duties, taxes and fees to be collected and therefore the amount of the Internal Revenue Matching Funds advance payment the territory receives every year through its rum cover-over program.

Readers can find Gottlieb’s letter here.

The Interior Department recently announced that the fiscal year 2014 advance for the cover-over program would be slightly more than $193 million, an approximately 25-percent reduction of the $264 million requested by the Virgin Islands government. Interior officials calculated the advance payment based on a reversion of a temporary rate at the start of the new year to one that is lower.

Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)

The territory’s calculation maintains the $13.25 current rate for the entire fiscal year – a calculation more in line with historical precedents, according to Government House’s statement. The Virgin Islands has already incorporated that larger amount into its fiscal year 2014 budget.

“Non-receipt of those funds will result in severe financial hardship, along with the corresponding and far-reaching economic repercussions, to the territory,” Gottlieb wrote Sobeck.

The United States Secretary of the Treasury, through the Secretary of Interior, is required under Internal Revenue Code to provide the Virgin Islands government an advance payment on the estimated amount of Matching Funds Revenue. The law mandates, however, the advance should be based on the territory’s governor’s estimate made prior to the start of the fiscal year, Gottlieb said.

Federal officials can adjust those payments later to ensure the amounts covered-over to the territory match up with actual collections.

Gottlieb’s letter said the U.S. Congress has “regularly and seamlessly” extended the temporary cover-over rate of $13.25 since it was first adopted in 1999, even extending it retroactively on occasion when Congressional scheduling allowed the rate to temporarily expire.

For that reason, it remains “a very real possibility” that even if the temporary rate were to expire at the end of the year, Congress would act to extend the rate retroactive to December 31. If the less likely scenario of no rate extension prevails, the Interior Secretary can always calculate in an adjustment when allotting the 2015 advance to the territory, Government House said.

The Virgin Islands government is working with Congressional tax-writing committees to make the temporary-rate permanent, or at least secure its regular extension, according to Gottlieb.

The Interior Secretary has “ample discretion” to calculate the 2014 advance payment based on the temporary cover-over rate that currently is in effect and is likely to be extended, Gottlieb wrote, urging the Office of Interior Affairs to do just that for the good of the Virgin Islands.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

Debra Gottlieb, director of the Virgin Islands Office of Management and Budget, has sent a letter to federal officials urging them to reconsider the rate they used in calculating the territory’s anticipated revenue from rum taxes for the coming fiscal year.

According to a statement released Sunday by Government House, Gottlieb's letter, addressed to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Eileen Sobeck, argues the Virgin Islands governor decides the duties, taxes and fees to be collected and therefore the amount of the Internal Revenue Matching Funds advance payment the territory receives every year through its rum cover-over program.

Readers can find Gottlieb's letter here.

The Interior Department recently announced that the fiscal year 2014 advance for the cover-over program would be slightly more than $193 million, an approximately 25-percent reduction of the $264 million requested by the Virgin Islands government. Interior officials calculated the advance payment based on a reversion of a temporary rate at the start of the new year to one that is lower.

The territory’s calculation maintains the $13.25 current rate for the entire fiscal year – a calculation more in line with historical precedents, according to Government House's statement. The Virgin Islands has already incorporated that larger amount into its fiscal year 2014 budget.

“Non-receipt of those funds will result in severe financial hardship, along with the corresponding and far-reaching economic repercussions, to the territory,” Gottlieb wrote Sobeck.

The United States Secretary of the Treasury, through the Secretary of Interior, is required under Internal Revenue Code to provide the Virgin Islands government an advance payment on the estimated amount of Matching Funds Revenue. The law mandates, however, the advance should be based on the territory’s governor’s estimate made prior to the start of the fiscal year, Gottlieb said.

Federal officials can adjust those payments later to ensure the amounts covered-over to the territory match up with actual collections.

Gottlieb's letter said the U.S. Congress has “regularly and seamlessly” extended the temporary cover-over rate of $13.25 since it was first adopted in 1999, even extending it retroactively on occasion when Congressional scheduling allowed the rate to temporarily expire.

For that reason, it remains “a very real possibility” that even if the temporary rate were to expire at the end of the year, Congress would act to extend the rate retroactive to December 31. If the less likely scenario of no rate extension prevails, the Interior Secretary can always calculate in an adjustment when allotting the 2015 advance to the territory, Government House said.

The Virgin Islands government is working with Congressional tax-writing committees to make the temporary-rate permanent, or at least secure its regular extension, according to Gottlieb.

The Interior Secretary has “ample discretion” to calculate the 2014 advance payment based on the temporary cover-over rate that currently is in effect and is likely to be extended, Gottlieb wrote, urging the Office of Interior Affairs to do just that for the good of the Virgin Islands.