MANILA – The House of Representatives’ ways and means committee on Monday recommended the extension of the traditional April 15 tax filing deadline amid concerns over the coronavirus diseases (Covid-19) outbreak.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, committee chair, said the Bureau of Internal Revenue should also consider waiving the penalties for filing tax returns beyond the April 15 deadline to provide taxpayers with administrative relief as community quarantine measures are in place in Metro Manila to fight the deadly virus.
“It makes sense to extend. While the April 15 deadline is written in the law, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue can make exceptions in meritorious cases. That’s in the tax code. I understand the Secretary of Finance’s sense that they are constrained. But we have options,” Salceda said in aide-memoire.
“We can extend the deadline, or we can temporarily waive the consequences of the deadline, which are penalties and surcharges. It makes sense to do either.” Salceda said.
Salceda said the BIR could utilize the electronic filing and payment system to help avoid face-to-face interactions.
“The Large Taxpayer Service already requires electronic filing. That’s around 30 to 40 thousand companies. That accounts for around 68 percent of the revenue the BIR generates. We should ensure that the user experience is easy, so that individual and small taxpayers can navigate that the system,” he said.
“We were already doing that by facilitating the legislative side of the BIR’s digital transformation. It appears we are now compelled to fast-track it,” he added.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said they cannot adjust the ITR filing deadline because it “is in the law.”
Dominguez, however, explained that the government “can allow amendment of returns without payment of interest, subject to certain conditions like no variance of more than 25 percent.”
“This will be in line with the SEC’s (Security and Exchange Commission) extension of deadline of filing of audited FS (financial statement) of 60 days,” he added.
Malacañang has placed Metro Manila under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, 2020 after the inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases raised to the highest Code Red (Sub-level 2) the alert status due to rise of community transmission of coronavirus.
In a press briefing in Malacañang last week, BIR Collection Service Head Revenue Executive Assistant Rosario Padilla encouraged taxpayers to tap the agency’s online platform, accessible through its website http://www.bir.gov.ph, to file their 2019 income tax instead of going to the various BIR offices to limit their exposure to the coronavirus disease. (PNA)