Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is now open to a possible two-week extension of the April 15 deadline for the filing of income tax returns amid the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in the country.
“Just got off the phone with DOF Sec. Sonny Dominguez. I requested him to extend the deadline of the filing of taxes. He said he will act on it ASAP,” said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
“He said he is calling a meeting right away to formulate the extension,” Sotto added.
Several lawmakers from both chambers of Congress have been using moral suasion on the DOF to allow the Bureau of Internal Revenue to extend the deadline.
BIR deput commissioner Arnel Guballa earlier said the April 15 deadline will remain as the filing of the ITR can be done online, with provision for electronic payment.
But Sotto said not all Filipinos have access to BIR’s online platform.
“Not everyone has internet. Not all have access to Wi-Fi, especially those in the provinces,” he said.
At the very least, Sotto said a two-week extension may be possible.
“He [Dominguez] said he will study if at least two weeks can be done. I said, okay, let’s extend for at least two weeks or by the end of April, and after that you can play it by ear,” Sotto said.
The COVID-19 outbreak has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine, short of calling it a total lockdown, that will last until April 14.
At the House of Representatives, Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera said under the tax code, the BIR Commissioner may grant reasonable extension in “meritorious cases.”
“The country is currently facing a grave health crisis. This has caused a serious dent on the livelihood of our people. We call on the BIR to listen and consider our appeal, the appeal of Filipino taxpayers to extend the deadline for the tax filing,” Herrera said.
For his part, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, said his committee will recommend the easing of filing requirements if the deadline is not extended.
Salceda said the BIR should also provide taxpayers with administrative relief, such as considering waiving the penalties for filing tax returns beyond the April 15 deadline.
“It makes sense to extend. I understand the Secretary of Finance’s sense that they are constrained. But we have options. 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.