MANILA - Senators on Wednesday urged the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to extend the deadline for the filing of taxes as parts of the country remain under a month-long lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
BIR officials earlier rejected calls to extend the April 15, 2020 deadline, saying taxpayers could pay their dues through online channels like PayMaya and GCash.
"Kailangan mag-extend sila. Hindi lahat ng tao may internet. Hindi lahat ng tao puwede maki-internet, lalo yung mga taga-probinsya," Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a radio interview.
(They have to extend. Not everybody has access to the internet, especially those in provinces.)
Leniency should also be given to taxpayers, considering that many workers may lose their income this month due to the temporary closure of non-essential establishments in areas under quarantine, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said in a statement.
"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 said.
(A lot of people have lost their income or jobs for a month. They don't now how to feed their families, they don't know when the crisis will end. Then, we are going to give them additional burden by asking them to file these tax requirements.)
Malls, cinemas and establishments that do not sell such basic necessities as food and medical supply were earlier required to shut down until the government lifts it quarantine order.
Public utility vehicles were also barred from plying roads while the lockdown, seen to help contain the spread of the virus, is in place.
"Pinakiusapan po natin ang taumbayan na tulungan ang gobyerno. Tulungan din po natin silang mabuhay at maging ligtas sa panahong ito,” Go said.
(We asked the public to help the government. Let us also help them live and be safe in these times.)
Under the Tax Code, the BIR Commissioner, who is under the DOF, has the power to extend tax deadlines in meritorious cases, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said in a separate statement, as he pushed for a month-long extension in the filing of tax returns.
"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," Pangilinan said.
"The finance and accounting documents are in their respective offices. 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," he said.
Sotto said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has agreed to call a meeting Wednesday to discuss the lawmakers' petition.
"Nag-aalala daw siya baka lalo silang kapusin ng funding dito," Sotto said.
(He said he is worried because they might further lack funds.)
"Sabi ko, 'Kung magkakaproblema kayo, by May 4, makakabalik na kami [sa session]. Kung anong batas ang kailangan ninyo, we will do it,'" he said.
(I said, if you will have any problem, we will be back (on session) on May 4. Whatever law you need, we will do it.)