SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go appealed to the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to extend the deadline for the filing of Annual Income Tax Returns after the agency released on Monday, March 16, Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 25-2020, which states that the “filing shall still be done on or before April 15, 2020.”
“Sa panahong katulad nito, dapat nagtutulungan tayo na mapagaan ang pasakit ng taumbayan. Magmalasakit po tayo sa bawat Pilipinong apektado,” Go said, referring to the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put Luzon under enhanced community quarantine and the entire country under a state of calamity.
“Pinakiusapan po natin ang taumbayan na tulungan ang gobyerno. Tulungan din po natin silang mabuhay at maging ligtas sa panahong ito,” the senator added.
Go appealed to the DOF and the BIR 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.
“Bigyan po natin ng palugit ang ating mga kababayang apektado ngayon. Maraming halos wala nang kita o kabuhayan ng isang buwan, hindi alam paano papakainin ang pamilya, hindi alam hanggang kailan magtatagal ang krisis. Tapos dadagdagan pa natin ang iniisip at aasikasuhin nila dahil sa tax requirements,” Go explained.
Go 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.
RMC 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 AITRs are allowed. “Considering the limitations in the preparation of the AITR 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 AITR filed, provided the concerned taxable period has not been the subject yet of an audit,” RMC 25-2020 states.
It adds that additional payments due to amendments can be paid without penalties until June 15, 2020. Required attachments to the electronically filed AITR 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.
“Kukulangin po ang oras. Baka mapilitan pa lumabas ng bahay at magtrabaho ng mga tao para lang asikasuhin ito kahit na nag-impose na tayo ng strict social distancing and quarantine measures,” Go explained.
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.