The Philippines has officially extended the deadline for the filing of Income Tax Returns (ITR) until May 15, 2020, heeding requests to delay the collection given the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) placed over Luzon.
Under Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 28-2020 dated March 18, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Caesar Dulay ordered a one-month extension without penalties to taxpayers.
"This emergency measure is being offered to provide relief to Filipino taxpayers who will not be able to prepare, let alone file, the necessary ITR documents on or before the original annual deadline of April 15 because of skeletal workforce arrangements and enhanced community quarantine rules that the national government has implemented to contain the pandemic," the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said the government "fully understands" the situation "given the extraordinary conditions that presently beset the country amid its campaign against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019."
“While the Office of the President is confident that our revenue officers would still be able to meet their tax collection targets, it also calls on everyone to do their patriotic duty of paying their taxes faithfully, once the situation enables them,” Panelo said.
The announcement was made by the Department of Finance (DOF) on Thursday, March 19, following calls from both the private and public sectors.
Lawmakers from both houses of Congress, as well as private sector groups such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. (PCCI) and the Makati Business Club (MBC) earlier called on the BIR to extend the deadline.
Prior to this, the BIR said it will retain the April 15 deadline, considering that taxpayers may process this online.
From 12 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, the entirety of Luzon was placed on ECQ until April 12, 2020, restricting travel within the region in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The DOF said the delay would reflect a shortfall in collections of around P145 billion, which may have to be covered by additional borrowings by the national government.
"The government is thus appealing to those who are able to file within the deadline or even as early as now to do so through mechanisms that have been made available by the BIR, including online filing and payment platforms," it said.
"These tax payments are crucial for the government to fund extremely urgent social protection and emergency health measures meant to effectively combat COVID-19 as well as to sustain state investments needed to help Filipino families regain stable and reliable sources of income at the soonest possible time," it elaborated.
For its part, the Philippine economic team earlier rolled out a P27.1-billion package to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and to provide economic relief to businesses affected by the threat.
Bulk of the amount, equivalent to P14 billion, will be used for programs of the Department of Tourism (DOT), said to be the "most affected." — RSJ/KBK, GMA News