BIR collections to decline due to virus fears
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The tax take of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is seen taking a hit as the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to affect the sales of some businesses, according to a top official.

In an interview, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said the BIR may see a decline in its tax collections for the month of March due to the impact of the outbreak.

“Most of our (regional offices), especially in the Large Taxpayer Service, said businesses had weak order demand. This will have an effect (on our collections) by next month because (taxes collected) for the month of February will be remitted in March. Even hotels are telling us they only had 12 percent occupancy,” Guballa said on the sidelines of the launching of the BIR and PayMaya’s tax payment facility.

“They are already sending feelers saying, don’t expect that we’ll have good voluntary payments this coming month,” he said.

In light of the situation, Guballa said the BIR ordered its regional officers to come up with estimates on the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their collections.

In the meantime, he said there was no certainty yet whether the bureau would need to adjust its collection target for the year or not.

For 2020, the BIR is targeting to collect P2.576 trillion in taxes, about P1.6 trillion would come from large taxpayers.

“I do not know what is going to be the effect of COVID-19. We still need to know if the situation would be prolonged,” the deputy commissioner said.

“But maybe the impact would not be that significant. As mentioned by (Finance) Secretary (Carlos Dominguez), the estimates of the DOF are not that big,” he added.

He said the BIR was also considering other sources of revenues to offset the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, Guballa said the BIR was still assessing whether to lift the temporary tax relief given to victims of the Taal volcano eruption.

Last January, the BIR suspended the deadlines for the filing of income tax returns and payment of taxes, covering taxpayers under the jurisdiction of Revenue District Offices No. 58 (Batangas City, West Batangas) and No. 59 (Lipa City, East Batangas).

The BIR said there would be no imposition of penalties due to the late filing and payment of tax returns.

Dominguez said earlier there was no need for the government to revise its 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent economic growth target this year despite the risks posed by COVID-19, as well as the Taal Volcano eruption and the African Swine Fever.

Dominguez said the reduction in growth caused by these threats would be cushioned by robust government spending on infrastructure and social services, coupled by a benign inflation environment.

Economic managers estimate that the COVID-19 outbreak may slash the country’s GDP growth by 0.3 percentage point this year.

Dominguez said the Taal eruption, meanwhile, likely cut the economic growth of the CALABARZON region by 0.17 percentage point.

2019 CORONAVIRUS DISEASE TAX
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