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Calls mount to extend deadline for filing income tax return

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Nancy Binay, among others, urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday to reconsider their decision not to extend the April 15 deadline for the filing and payment of annual income taxes for 2020.

“I hope the April 15 deadline can be extended, even in NCR Plus [bubble],” Binay said in a statement, referring to Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna, which are under stricter lockdown protocols due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

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“We already extended last year because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Since we are still in the same situation a year later, I don’t understand why it can’t be considered,” Binay said.

At press time there was no official reaction from the BIR to the senator’s statement.

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But business leaders ad­ded their voices to the call for a deadline extension, with Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., suggesting 30 days and Roberto Claudio, vice chair of Philippine Retailers Association, 45 days.

Ortiz-Luis said there was talk in business circles that an extension would be sought, although a formal request had yet to be made.

“Because of the lockdown, there are a lot who weren’t able to get the necessary documents. That’s why they really need to extend it. Otherwise, many will be penalized,” he said by phone on Wednesday night.

Revenue targets

On Monday, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said the bureau would not extend the deadline because of the government’s need to reach its revenue targets to fund the pandemic response.

Guballa added that while no extension was forthcoming, taxpayers would be allowed to amend their filings until May 15 with no penalties.

On Tuesday, BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay reiterated the bureau’s stand. He said taxpayers or their authorized officers would be allowed to affix an electronic signature on all tax returns, attachments and other accompanying documents.

Dulay also encouraged electronic filing instead of submission of hard copies of returns.

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Binay, however, said individual taxpayers and owners of micro and small businesses would find it difficult to comply given the restrictions on movement imposed by the continuing lockdown.

She said corporate taxpayers would also be pressed for time in adjusting their payments to the lower rates provided as relief by the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act, which Pre­sident Duterte signed into law only on March 26.

‘Mismanagement of crisis’

The BIR released the law’s draft implementing rules and regulations on April 6.

Binay said that while she understood that the government had revenue targets, the people should not have to pay the price for its mishandling of the public health crisis.

“So why are we passing the buck [to taxpayers] if they aren’t responsible for the mismanagement of this crisis?” the senator said.

The ECQ in Metro Manila and four surrounding provinces that started on March 29 originally covered only the Holy Week, but it has since been extended by the government to April 11 because of the unabated increase in COVID-19 infections.

The DOF, which oversees the BIR, has been cold to the idea of extending the tax payment deadline because revenues remained weak due to the pandemic-induced recession.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House ways and means committee, earlier said the government’s cash situation “appears to be precarious.”

“We need the cash” and thus will have to stick to the April 15 deadline, Salceda said.

—WITH A REPORT FROM BEN O. DE VERA
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TAGS: business leaders, deadline for filing of income tax return, Nancy Binay
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