THE DEADLINE for filing annual income tax returns has been moved to May 15 due to the Luzon-wide lockdown. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ-JOHN ROSALES

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) extended the deadline for the filing of income tax returns (ITR) by one month to May 15, but the Finance department said this may result in an “estimated delay and shortfall in tax collections of around P145 billion.”

BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay issued Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 28-2020 dated March 18 which moved the deadline of the filing of 2019 annual ITRs to May 15 from April 15, amid the Luzon-wide lockdown over the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“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 DoF said in a statement.

The government targets to collect P3.49 trillion this year to fund its P4.1-trillion spending plan, with the remaining funds to be sourced from its borrowing activities. The BIR is tasked to collect P2.576 trillion.

Asked if the delay in collecting P145 billion in taxes would affect the government’s spending plan, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a Viber message that there will be “no impact” to government expenditures.

The DoF urged those who are able to file their ITRs on or before the original April 15 deadline to still do so, to allow the government to raise funds for efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and to help affected sectors.

Taxpayers who are enrolled in the electronic filing and payment system may settle their tax liabilities with authorized agent banks. Other payment options include over-the-counter payments through authorized agent banks and electronic/online payment platforms.

Digital payments firm Paymaya Philippines has waived its P20-convenience fee for BIR payments through the platform until May 31.

Also, the BIR, through RMC 27-2020, extended the deadline for filing applications for value-added tax (VAT) refunds for those falling due on March 31 to April 30.

The bureau also suspended the 90-day period processing of VAT refund claims for ongoing claims, and those received between March 16 to April 14. The counting of the number of processing days will resume after the lifting of the Luzon-wide lockdown.

BIR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnel S.D. Guballa said in a mobile phone message that the bureau is “rushing” to work on extending other tax deadlines.

Tax Management Association of the Philippines, Inc. (TMAP) has welcomed the 30-day extension of ITR filing and payment as this will give accountants ample time to prepare amid the Luzon lockdown.

TMAP President Romeo H. Duran said they will still appeal to the BIR for a 30-day extension to deadlines of other returns which will fall under the quarantine period.

“We are very much in favor of the extension… [as well as on the] VAT refund, processing of claims. It’s so difficult to meet the March 31 deadline… We’re also looking at asking the BIR for other tax types also whose due dates will fall during the quarantine period,” he said in a phone interview.

He said they will also request the BIR to revisit the deadlines on other filing requirements such as administrative protests and replies since preparing these requires sifting through documents and onsite operations.

RMC 26-2020 dated March 17 reminded taxpayers that other returns with deadlines falling during the 30-day quarantine period can file “tentative returns” and “tax payers are given 30 days… to file the final tax returns and pay taxes due thereon.”

The entire Luzon island has been placed under enhanced community quarantine until April 12 in the government’s attempt to slow the spread of the virus that infected 217 and killed 17 people in the country, as of Thursday. — Beatrice M. Laforga