Tax Freedom in Puerto Rico

Want to pay no federal income tax?

Move to Puerto Rico.

Really. If you move to the island, you can legally pay none. There’s also no capital gains tax.

You just have to give 4% of your income to Puerto Rico.

The tax break was started by a Puerto Rican politician who’d watched years of high taxes fail to improve life on the island. He decided to try something different.

Obviously, it’s a popular idea, when people learn about it.

Tens of thousands have applied for the exemption, and applications tripled last year.

YouTube star Logan Paul moved his show from California to Puerto Rico to take advantage of the tax deal.

Investor Peter Schiff says, “I did it for the obvious benefit of being able to keep most of what I own … It’s too bad that Puerto Rico didn’t do this decades ago. They wouldn’t be in the economic trouble they are today.”

“A lot of people are moving down here,” says social worker Melissa DaSilva in my newest video. Two years ago, she ran a therapy business in Rhode Island. Now she runs it remotely from Puerto Rico. “I’m saving 25% of my income.”

She loves her new life.

“I wake up, and I have the ocean in front of me. I go out my back door, the rainforest is off in the distance. It’s just a magical place to live.”

Given that this tax break is so big, it’s surprising that most Americans haven’t heard about it.

“People just don’t really talk about it much,” says DaSilva. “There’s this fear that people from the state side are going to come down and take over everything.”

Given Puerto Rico’s history, she says, that fear is justified. “The Spaniards came and decided it’s going to be their island and decimated all the native people. Then the United States comes down, and they decide it’s going to be their island.”

But these new Puerto Ricans aren’t exactly conquerors.

They’re a mix of entrepreneurs, tax haters, crypto millionaires and ordinary people who just want to keep more of their money. By bringing wealth and skills to Puerto Rico, they create opportunity for Puerto Ricans. One report says they have already created 40,000 new jobs.

“If you don’t pay taxes, aren’t you hurting Puerto Rico?” I ask DaSilva.

“I do pay taxes,” DaSilva replies. “I provide other things as well.” She sells digital art and donates part of her sales to local nonprofits.

Billionaire Brock Pierce moved to Puerto Rico and now helps run the charity Toys for Tots. He also is renovating a hotel that was abandoned after Hurricane Maria. That’s expected to create 300 jobs. Others are building hurricane-resistant farms, tech companies and schools.

But some people always see such investment as a problem. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., calls the tax incentive “horrifying.”

“It’s an example of the continued colonization of the people of Puerto Rico,” she complains. “We are essentially importing a ruling class.”

She seems to think that if someone makes money, others must lose, as if there are only winners or losers. This is zero-sum thinking.

It’s true in politics. But it’s not true in most of life. Wherever markets are free, new wealth gets created. Then almost everyone wins.

DaSilva has an answer to Ocasio-Cortez’s zero-sum thinking:

“All ships rise with a tide,” she says. “Let’s all grow with this.”

Puerto Rico has tried big government, strict regulations, high taxes on businesses, handouts to favored groups, heavy borrowing and declaring bankruptcy.

I bet tax breaks work better.

Photo by Caleb Oquendo

11 thoughts on “Tax Freedom in Puerto Rico

  1. As with anything tax related, it’s not as simple as “just move.” While the requirements aren’t a high bar (Internal Revenue Code §933), once met, the incentives can be lucrative, including the benefits of Puerto Rico Acts 20 and 22 related to PR residents’ taxes. Interesting read.

  2. They can do this because they are a US territory? Can the other US territories do the same thing?

  3. Thanks for the information regarding Puerto Rico.
    BTW – you have AOC pegged. She and WOKE radicalism poison Americans who want to work hard, dedicate themselves to building a businesses, and live without government over reach.

  4. Is Puerto Rico “retiree” friendly? And how does a retiree avoid taxes when their incomes comes
    from social security, 401 distributions, and CD and IRA accounts?

  5. So why is AOC considered about US Citizens moving to a US territory, and does nothing about the true invasion at our Southern Border? Does she not represent NY?

  6. Who is “we”, AOC? You’ve never lived in Puerto Rico. As for “importing a ruling class”, didn’t your family come to the mainland? And aren’t you an ACTUAL member of the ruling class?

  7. Gentrification ring a bell? The working middle class is seeing absolutely no benefit from the influx of state side funds. The benefits if any – are very localized in certain Municipalities while real estate prices for sales and rentals are skyrocketing across the board driving out literally seniors and even young couples starting out their lives of access to decent housing.

  8. I love the idea of low taxes. I suggest any city or state be allowed to participate in the Pay What You Want Tax Plan. I suggest each tax form be broken down into sections as military, courts, armed forces, foreign aid, education, welfare, or infrastructure. People should contribute 0 to 100% of the amount each section and subsection requests. Let the Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens and any other organizations or individuals have their say about any part of the government requesting money oob a special web page. The only reasons to censor anyone is impolite language or name calling. Individual taxpayers should be encouraged to write down any ideas they have to improve any part of government in order to merit larger contributions. Public libraries should help folks with computers. No tax breaks. Actual paper income tax forms should have amount of income taken in, and the minimum each section of government requests of each individual. There should be a list of reasons one might wish to give more, the same, or less than requested amounts.

  9. I forgot to mention there would be no need for an IRS. There should be an absolute lower limit of 10% of one’s income for courts, police, and armed forces.

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