By Ben Rosario
The Lower House committee on ways and means wants the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to waive penalties for the late filing of income tax returns as taxpayers continue to observe government’s enhanced community quarantine directive.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, committee chairman, said the House panel is calling on the BIR to relax the tax filing requirements. Deadline for filing income tax returns is on April 15, a day after the community quarantine order is expected to be lifted.
Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called on the BIR and the Department of Finance (DOF) to extend the deadline for tax payments because of the total lockdown and other stringent measures being implemented to combat COVID-19.
“It is very ironic that the executive department issued and implemented a lockdown order but the Department of Finance is apparently defying it by insisting on the April 15 tax payment deadline,” noted the opposition lawmaker.
Salceda said the ways and means panel recommends an extension of filing of up to May 4.
In an aide memoire detailing measures to boost the economy and provide the public relief amid community quarantine measures to fight Covid-19, Salceda said the BIR should 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. 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,” he explained.
“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,” he added.
The senior administration lawmaker also urged the BIR to fully implement the electronic payment system in order to comply with the social distancing policy.
“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,” Salceda said.
He added: “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.”