MANILA – April 15 is one week away, but taxpayers received last-minute surprises before this year's filing deadline of Income Tax Return (ITR).
Last month, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued new revenue regulations that prescribe new requirements for taxpayers for this year's ITR filing season. This mandates certain types of taxpayers to file their returns using the BIR's electronic forms or the eBIR forms facility.
Under the new process, taxpayers who fail to comply will be imposed a penalty of P1,000 per return plus 25 percent surcharge of the tax due.
Taxpayers included in the group who will be filing using the new eBIR forms are the accredited tax agents or practitioners and all its client-taxpayers, accredited printers of principal and supplementary receipts, government-owned or -controlled corporations, local government units except barangays and cooperatives.
Meanwhile, the new process granted much-needed relief to senior citizens and PWDs, salaried workers with taxes fully withheld by employer and those who opt to file ITRs, even if they are qualified to no longer file them, such as those with personal reasons like foreign travel, promotion and scholarship.
These also include those with "No Payment" returns and One Time Transaction (ONETT) taxpayers.
Under this new rule, taxpayers who fail to comply will be imposed a penalty of P1,000 per return and additional civil penalty of 25 percent of the tax due.
With the new regulation, BIR aims to minimize manual filing which at times causes errors in details, capture tax information in a timely and efficient manner and facilitate the electronic submission of tax returns.
These new rules will already apply in time for the April 15 ITR filing for taxable year 2014.
To enroll, taxpayers will have to access the BIR website at www.bir.gov.ph, click services, click eBIR forms, and click "enroll to e/BIRforms." Complete the required fields on the enrollment form page then click "submit."
Individuals enrolling online for themselves shall be automatically approved without submitting any documents to BIR.
When some taxpayers tried to access the site, however, it's either "under construction" or "not available."
A group of taxpayers, the Tax Management Association of the Philippines, is asking the BIR to postpone the full implementation of the eBIR ITR forms this tax filing season.
Rina Manuel, TMAP's past president, stated few reasons why the implementation of eBIR forms should be deferred or made optional with a gradual phase-in implementation.
"Mukhang hindi pa handa ang system, kulang sa taxpayer education, iba-iba ang sinasabi ng mga RDO nakakalito. ‘Yung readiness ng system ng eBIR facility, under construction ‘yung site,” said Manuel.
Manuel added that there was lack of consultation and adequate time for education of the various stakeholders to the ITR change process, such as the taxpayers, RDOs and accredited banks.
The group fears that some may get dismayed by the seemingly complicated process that they might not file at all, which will result to low tax filing compliance.
TMAP wrote a letter to BIR to ask the agency to postpone the change in filing.
But the BIR said it will not postpone the electronic process of filing despite requests from different groups and even politicians.
BIR Deputy Commissioner Nelson Aspe said the agency sees no reason to defer the change in process.
He admits that they are also aware of the difficulty encountered by some taxpayers trying to access their website to file their returns. But he said they asked the taxpayers to file early to avoid the expected cyberspace congestion due to last-minute filers.
Just today, BIR issued another memo to put alternative means of obtaining offline eBIR forms.
Taxpayers can download the forms from any of the following:
dropbox using this link: https://bit.ly/1lmuMLj
or direct link using https://ftp.pregi.net/bir/ebirforms_package_v4.7.07_ITRv2013.zip
Aspe added that those who filed early manually should again file electronically at no cost. But they will be waived from the penalty even if they file after the deadline.
BIR will be monitoring the next few days before the April 15 deadline.