MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers called on the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to extend the deadline for filing of taxes beyond April 15, as the entire island of Luzon and other parts of the country remain under lockdown because of the novel coronavirus.
On Wednesday, March 18, House ways and means chairperson Representative Joey Salceda said it was “heartless” for the BIR to stick to the same deadline when President Rodrigo Duterte already placed Luzon under enhanced community quarantine.
“This is a cheap shot from the DOF and the BIR. I did not expect them to be this heartless. While governments around the world feel for their people and offer them quarters, assistance, food, medicine, and just a simple helping hand during this unprecedented world crisis, you have the gall to tell us that there will be no deferment of the scheduled tax deadline on April 15,” said Salceda, whose panel is tasked to pass tax reform measures.
“Hindi kami nanghihingi ng pera. Magbabayad kami ng buwis. Pero, huwag mo naman sabihin sa amin na magbayad kami 2 araw matapos ang quarantine na in-impose niyo,” added the Albay 2nd District congressman. (We’re not asking for money. We’re going to pay our taxes. But don’t tell us we only have two days to pay for our taxes because of the quarantine you imposed.)
DOF to reconsider?
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he already spoke to DOF Secretary Sonny Dominguez to extend the deadline. “He said he will act on it ASAP! He said he is calling a meeting right away to formulate the extension,” Sotto told reporters.
On March 16, BIR issued a memorandum saying the April 15 deadline for tay payments will remain and urged taxpayers to file through online means. At the time, Metro Manila was under a “general community quarantine.”
Bagong Henerasyon Representative Bernadette Herrera said taxpayers would now surely fail to meet the April 15 deadline should the Luzon lockdown not be lifted sooner.
“The country is currently facing a grave health crisis. Malaki na rin ang naging epekto nito sa hanapbuhay ng ating mga kababayan. Kaya naman nananawagan tayo sa BIR na pakinggan ang hiling ng ating mga taxpayer na i-extend ang deadline nito,” said Herrera, who is also House Deputy Majority Leader.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also appealed to the BIR to extend the deadline to at least a month or longer.
“We request for at least a month-long or longer extension for the filing of income tax returns because the accountants who prepare the returns cannot report for work as 1) they are not considered employees of essential/vital industries; 2) the finance and accounting documents are in their respective offices; and 3)they would not have enough time to examine the documents from April 12, when the quarantine is lifted, and April 15, the deadline for the filing of tax returns,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate not only made a similar appeal to the BIR, but also asked other financial institutions and even electric cooperatives to extend their payment deadlines too.
“Ito ay ilan sa mga puwede nating gawin habang tuloy-tuloy na nahihirapan ang ating mga mamamayan dahil sa nangyari na enhanced community quarantine, lalung-lalo na sa Luzon at sa iba pang bahagi ng bansa (These are just some of the things we can do as our countrymen continue to suffer from the enhanced community quaratine, especially those in Luzon and other parts of the country),” said the Bayan Muna representative.
As of 12 noon Wednesday, the Philippines has tallied a total of 202 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Of this number, 17 patients have died while 7 already recovered from the disease. – with reports from Aika Rey/Rappler.com