(Adds details of collection)
NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Puerto Rico posted its highest level of collections for sales and use tax for any September since the levy was introduced in 2006, and the indebted U.S. commonwealth cited improved enforcement efforts.
Sales and use tax (SUT) collections totaled $124.2 million in September, an 8.5 percent increase from the same month in 2013, preliminary data from Puerto Rico’s Treasury Department showed on Wednesday.
Collections year-to-date were 5.4 percent higher, while SUT collections were the highest level for a month of September since the tax was implemented in November 2006, Puerto Rico’s Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta Febo said.
Acosta Febo attributed the results “to the Treasury Department’s ongoing efforts to increase collections, tackle tax evasion and enforce tax compliance through the collection of the SUT at the island’s ports.”
Puerto Rico is struggling with a debt mountain surpassing $70 billion. Its economy has been in or near recession for eight years. It passed its first balanced budget in years in the current financial year and tax collections are key to meeting that commitment.
The SUT collections are allocated to service debt payments on $15.2 billion of outstanding COFINA bonds.
COFINA will receive the first $670 million collected in SUT revenues to service the debt in the 2015 financial year, a 4 percent increase over last year’s payment of $643.7 million to COFINA, the statement said. (Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by David Gregorio)