Despite likelihood of long lines amid outbreak, BIR sticks with April 15 tax filing deadline

Prinz Magtulis - Philstar.com
Despite likelihood of long lines amid outbreak, BIR sticks with April 15 tax filing deadline
BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines— There will be no extension on the April 15 deadline on paying income tax even as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) tries to prevent long queues typical during the last day of filing returns amid the coronavirus outbreak, officials said on Wednesday.

“There are no pronouncements of any extension. We don’t see any need to extend as of the moment,” said Rosario Padilla, head revenue executive assistant at BIR’s collection service, during a televised briefing in Malacanang.

Instead, BIR Assistant Commissioner Elenita Quimosing, in the same briefing, said the bureau encourages taxpayers to settle their duties early, or utilize the electronic payment systems such as BIR’s own e-Filing and Payment System, and those through its partners, PayMaya and GCash. 

“They can also always go to the bank to file their returns,” she added. 

Reporters raised the possibility of extending the period of tax filing as health authorities discourage close contact in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus causing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). As of Tuesday, the government reported 33 confirmed infections nationwide, with the number still set to increase.

BIR, which collects around 80% of tax revenues yearly, relies heavily on a typical surge in collections during April as taxpayers troop to their offices to settle their income tax duties, which for the past five years ending 2018, accounted for an average of 57.3% of total collections.

That figure will go down to 49% in 2020, when BIR is tasked to raise P1.26 trillion of its P2.57-trillion goal from income taxes. Broken down monthly, a total of P175.84 billion on income levies are set to be collected in April, BIR data showed.

On Wednesday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government is set to lose P91 billion this year as the spread of COVID-19 spooks consumers from economic activities like travel, which generates revenues for the government. 

There are indications this is already happening. BIR’s Padilla said that as of March 10, the tax agency has collected P332.54 billion, up 3.8% year-on-year from P320 billion same period a year ago. The growth rate is running below the 11% uptick recorded in January to March last year.

“We are calling on them to pay their taxes early,” Quimosing said, while Padilla reminded taxpayers that for those filing beyond April 15, a surcharge of 25% and 12% annual interest will be slapped on top of their dues, as prescribed by law.

“There are packages are available to any taxpayer who would like to file online. We hope that with this in place, we will be having less over-the-counter (payments),” Padilla said.



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