Senator Sotto appeals to Finance Secretary to extend filing of ITR amid COVID-19



Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said Finance Secretary Sonny Dominquez vowed to act immediately on the mounting calls to extend the deadline for the filing of Income Tax Returns (ITRs) amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)  pandemic.

“I requested him to extend the deadline of the filing of taxes. He said he will act on it ASAP (as soon as possible),” Sotto said.

According to Sotto, Dominguez also informed him that he is calling a meeting right away to formulate the extension for the filing.

Lawyer Arnel Guballa, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)  Deputy Commissioner for Operations, earlier said the April 15 deadline will remain as the filing of ITR can be done online. Payments can also be made online.

For those who do not know how much taxes they are going to pay, he said the filing can be done tentatively, stressing the government needs funds.

Aside from Sotto, Senators Francis Pangilinan and Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go also appealed to the Department of Finance (DOF) and the BIR to extend the deadline for the filing of annual  ITR.

Go appealed to consider a one-month extension on the filing of ITRs and which can be extended further when necessary depending on the extent of the COVID-19 situation.

He urged government to balance the varying interests during the time of crisis. He added that while his appeal may adversely affect government revenue collection, now is the time to show more compassion to the plight of affected Filipinos.

“As a legislator and fellow worker of government, I am appealing to the DOF and to BIR. Let’s give the people time to prioritize their safety and the welfare of their families first, provided that after we overcome this crisis, we trust that they will fulfill their tax obligations,” Go said.

Revenue Memorandum Circular 25-2020 states that “taxpayers who are not mandated to use the electronic filing facilities” of the BIR are “encouraged” to use the facilities to limit their exposure to COVID-19.

It also provides that as consideration given to taxpayers, amendments to ITRs are allowed.

“Considering the limitations in the preparation of the ITR to be filed by concerned taxpayers due to the aforesaid lock-down, errors in the determination of their income taxes are possible. Hence, taxpayers, at any time, can amend their ITR filed, provided the concerned taxable period has not been the subject yet of an audit,” RMC  25-2020 stated.

It adds that additional payments due to amendments can be paid without penalties until June 15, 2020.

Required attachments to the electronically filed  ITR can also be submitted until the same date.

While acknowledging the considerations made by the BIR in RMC 25-2020, Go nevertheless cited that an extension may still be the best course of action at this time since the enhanced community quarantine is targeted to end on April 12 while the imposed deadline is on April 15.

Go cited Section 53 of the National Internal Revenue Code as basis for his appeal to the BIR. He said that Section 53 of the law provides that the BIR Commissioner may, in meritorious cases, grant a reasonable extension of time for filing returns of income.

According to Go, “a reading of Section 53 would show that the Commissioner has the power, in meritorious cases, to grant a reasonable extension of time for filing returns of income. If the Commissioner decides that the COVID-19 situation afflicting the entire country can be sufficiently characterized as a ‘meritorious case’  affecting individual and corporate taxpayers alike, he may extend the deadline for filing income tax returns,” Go said.

Former Senator  JV  Ejercito had also made the same appeal, asking the government agencies to consider deferring the filing of income taxes or extending or suspending it while the country is in a health emergency./Stacy Ang


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