MANILA – Several senators on Wednesday urged the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to extend the deadline for the filing of income tax returns (ITRs) amid a month-long enhanced community quarantine imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Kailangan mag-extend sila. Hindi lahat ng tao may internet. Hindi lahat ng tao puwede maki-internet, lalo yung mga taga-probinsya (They needed to extend. Not all people have internet access. Not all people can have access to other people’s internet, especially those in provinces),” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a radio interview.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said the non-extension of the tax requirements would be another burden imposed on the people, considering that many of them may lose their livelihood due to the closure of non-essential establishments during the quarantine period.
“Maraming halos wala nang kita o kabuhayan ng isang buwan, hindi alam paano papakainin ang pamilya, hindi alam hanggang kailan magtatagal ang krisis. Tapos dadagdagan pa natin ang iniisip at aasikasuhin nila dahil sa tax requirements (A lot of people may have almost no income or livelihood for a month, not knowing how to feed their families or how long the crisis will last. Then, we are going to give them additional burden because of these tax requirements),” Go said in a statement.
“Pinakiusapan po natin ang taumbayan na tulungan ang gobyerno. Tulungan din po natin silang mabuhay at maging ligtas sa panahong ito (We asked the people to help the government. Let us also help them to live and be safe during these times),” he said.
The BIR earlier rejected calls to extend the April 15 deadline for filing of ITRs, saying instead that the public can file their ITRs through the agency’s website and pay their taxes through online channels like PayMaya and GCash.
In a separate statement, Senator Francis Pangilinan said extending the deadline for the filing of ITRs would, in effect, remove the imposition of penalties as long as the ITRs are filed within the extended period.
He said the BIR should extend the filing of ITRs for at least one month because the accountants who prepare the returns cannot report for work.
“They are not considered employees of essential/vital industries; the finance and accounting documents are in their respective offices; and they would not have enough time to examine the documents from April 12, when the quarantine is lifted, to April 15, the deadline for the filing of tax returns,” Pangilinan said.
In a text message to reporters, Sotto said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has agreed to call a meeting Wednesday to discuss the lawmakers’ petition.
He said Dominguez has expressed concern that the government may lose vital funding in the proposed extension in the filing of ITRs.
“Ang sabi ko: ‘Kung magkaka-problema kayo, by May 4, makakabalik na kami (sa session). Kung anong batas ang kailangan ninyo (I said, if you will have any problem, by May 4, we will be back on session. Whatever law you need), we will do it,” Sotto said. (PNA)