Statehood would have significant benefits for Puerto Rico:
- Full participation in the democratic process in the United States
- Equal representation in the federal government
- Equality in the rights and responsibilities of States, including federal funds for things like roads and healthcare
- Access to income tax credits that help low-income families
- The possibility of lower local income tax and sales taxes; Puerto Rico currently has the highest sales tax in the nation
- Greater confidence on the part of companies looking to build their businesses in Puerto Rico
- Economic strength comparable to other States, as every territory which has become a State has seen
But what would the 51st State mean for the United States as a whole?
While Puerto Rico already pays federal tax to the U.S., there are a number of factors that keep the payments low:
- Puerto Rico’s tax deals with wealthy individuals and with corporations prevent the federal government from collecting billions of tax dollars every year. The money doesn’t go to Puerto Rico — it stays in the pockets of those who take advantage of these loopholes.
- While the Government Accountability Office estimates that 70% of Puerto Ricans would not pay any income taxes, 30% would pay something.
- Puerto Rico has a very high poverty level compared with all the States; once Puerto Rico is a State and becomes more prosperous, tax payments to the U.S. government would increase.
The Government Accountability Office, in a report estimating the financial effects of statehood for Puerto Rico, estimated that Puerto Rico would receive something in the neighborhood of 10 billion additional dollars each year, and that the U.S. government would also receive additional billions in revenue. Again, once the Island’s economy improves, the revenue would increase.
The people of Puerto Rico already serve in the military and enrich the culture of the United States, participate in sports and the arts, and in many other ways contribute to the American experience. There are now about five million people of Puerto Rican heritage living in the States — more than those who live on the Island. Greater collaboration in business and greater resources for education will increase opportunities for the United States as well.