A KEY legislator has asked the authorities to waive penalties for taxpayers who miss the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns as a form of “administrative relief” for the public during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Representative Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda of Albay, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to provide taxpayers administrative relief, including a waiver of penalties for missing the deadline.

“It makes sense to extend. While the April 15 deadline is written in the law, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue can make exceptions in meritorious cases. That’s in the tax code. I understand the Secretary of Finance’s sense that they are constrained. But we have options,” Mr. Salceda said in a statement Monday.

He said that the BIR can extend the deadline or “temporarily waive the consequences of the deadline” which includes penalties and surcharges.

Mr. Salceda also said that the electronic filing and payment system of the BIR will also help minimize face-to-face interactions.

“The Large Taxpayer Service already requires electronic filing. That’s around 30 to 40 thousand companies. That accounts for around 68% of the revenue the BIR generates. We should ensure that the user experience is easy, so that individual and small taxpayers can navigate the system,” he said, adding that his panel is now “compelled” to fast-track the legislative process of the BIR’s digital transformation.

“Definitely, it will help to extend the deadline and boost the electronic channels. I am already working with the DoF (Department of Finance) and the BIR to see what (our) options are. We have options to either extend in fact or extend in consequence. Either way works,” Mr. Salceda said.

On Sunday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the department cannot move the April 15 deadline because of the law.

However, Mr. Dominguez said the authorities could waive interest fees on income tax return amendments if the increment of income tax payable does not exceed 25%.

Taxpayers who fail to file by the deadline will incur penalties, including a 25% surcharge on the tax due, and 12% interest per annum. — Genshen L. Espedido