Puerto Rico temporarily exempts products to slow spread of COVID-19

Updated 5.7.2020

Starting today, March 23, 2020, Puerto Rico is providing a temporary state and local sales tax exemption for supplies that could help prevent people from contracting the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

The exemption was initially to run from 12:01 a.m., March 23, to 11:59 p.m., April 30, but it was extended through May 31, 2020. It applies to the following products:

  • Antihistamines and other cold medication
  • Disinfectants and antiseptics
  • Facial masks
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Household cleaning and disinfecting products (e.g., bleach, detergent, disinfectant, soap)
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Pain relievers and medications with acetaminophen or ibuprofen (tablets, suppositories, liquids)
  • Personal disinfection items (e.g., shampoo, soap, wet wipes)
  • Tissues
  • Vinyl gloves

Additional details are available in Administrative Determination No. 20-07.

Puerto Rico is also providing a temporary sales tax exemption for prepared foods, carbonated beverages, confectionary products, and sweets. This exemption was initially to be in effect from 12:01 a.m., March 20, to 11:59, p.m., April 19, 2020, but was extended through May 3. Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced then extended the exemption for prepared foods until Monday, May 25, 2020.  Retailers should report sales of these products as "Sales of Exempt Tangible Personal Property" on their monthly sales tax returns. Additional details are available in Adminstrative Determination No. 20-08.

No American states have announced similar exemptions as of this writing. However, exemptions for face masks and other items needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 are starting to crop up in other locations. For example:

  • Bangladesh exempts medical equipment, masks, and similar equipment from customs duty, VAT, and other taxes until June 30, 2020
  • Malaysia exempts face masks from import duty and sales tax from March 23, 2020 until further notice.
  • Pakistan exempts medical and testing equipment from customs duty and sales tax

Get the latest tax U.S. and global tax news related to COVID-19: Coronavirus tax relief roundup and World turns to VAT cuts on coronavirus COVID-19 threat.

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