Puerto Rico: Deadlines to File Qualification Amendments are Extended due to COVID-19 Lockdown

To combat exposure to COVID-19, Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced issued Executive Order EO-2020-023 on March 15, 2020, ordering an island-wide lockdown and curfew. The restrictions have been extended several times. Executive Order EO-2020-038 issued on May 1 extended the curfew in place until May 25, 2020, while relaxing some lockdown measures and allowing certain businesses to begin reopening. These measures have affected deadlines imposed by government agencies, including deadlines imposed by the Puerto Rico Treasury Department (“PR Treasury”).  

Pursuant to the PR Treasury’s Tax Policy Circular Letter No. 16-08 (“CC 16-08”), which regulates the qualification process for Employee Benefits Plans (“Plans”) under the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code of 2011, Plans that had qualifying amendments must be submitted to the PR Treasury for qualification “no later than the last day that the [Puerto Rico Internal Revenue] Code provides to file the employer's income tax return, including any extension granted by the [Treasury] Department for the filing of said form, for the taxable year of the employer during which the qualification amendment was formally adopted.” Qualification amendments are amendments that must be submitted to the PR Treasury to determine whether they affect the qualification of the Plan under Puerto Rico’s tax laws and which include, among others, changes to the eligibility of participants; the formula for benefits calculation; adding, removing or substituting participating employers of the Plan; or even the termination or “freezing” of Plan benefits.

Although the PR Treasury has not formally announced any changes to the deadline to file Plan amendments for qualification, it did issue Administrative Determination No. 20-09 (“AD 20-09”), which, among other provisions, extends the deadlines for taxpayers to file income tax returns. The new deadlines were established based on the original due date, and are as follows: (1) original due date of March 15, 2020 is now June 15, 2020; (2) original due date of April 15, 2020 is now July 15, 2020; and (3) original due dates of May 15, 2020 and June 15, 2020 are now July 15, 2020. 

Therefore, while AD 20-09 did not expressly apply the extension of deadlines to the filing of qualification requests for employee benefit plans, based on CC 16-08, the deadline may be considered extended as well. If the qualification request is not filed by the aforementioned deadlines, they will be subject to late filing fees for each late filing.  

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.