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As Utility Companies Extend Payment Dues, the BIR Keeps Nagging Us About Tax Returns

The BIR says everyone must file their ITRs before April 15.
IMAGE BIR
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As the government declared more stringent measures in the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon, utility companies have been quick to show solidarity with the people by extending their bill payment deadlines for 30 days.

Meralco, PLDT, Smart, Sky, Globe, and other service providers have announced a 30-day bill payment extension starting March 15 and 16. The move was in consideration of the curbed mobility in Metro Manila and the entire Luzon island, and the fact people’s incomes are affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

But one organization is determined on collecting our obligations before April 15, come what may.

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In a series of posts, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) reminded people not to miss the deadline of filing tax returns. One post, in particular, was published on March 13, right after President Duterte’s first announcement of a Community Quarantine in Metro Manila.

“Avoid the Rush! Avoid COVID-19! File your Annual Income Tax Return Online Before APRIL 15, 2020” said the BIR in a Facebook post.

 

This was followed by more posts with uppercase headlines that read “TAX DEADLINE.”

 

 

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The BIR’s latest post was on March 16, imploring people once again to immediately file their tax returns before the April 15 deadline.

The BIR is the backbone of the government’s fiscal health, and we understand that it needs tax returns so it can properly collect taxes from the people. But we are in a state of national crisis.

The National Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines states that the filing of the income tax return is set on or before April 15 of each year. But Section 53 of the Code also states:

The Commissioner may, in meritorious cases, grant a reasonable extension of time for filing returns of income (or final and adjustment returns in case of corporations).

Either the BIR is tone-deaf, or the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t fall under its definition of “meritorious.”

As of this writing, there are over 140 cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines. Everyone is doing their best to cooperate and not panic, at the expense of losing their income and livelihood for at least 30 days. Perhaps giving hardworking taxpayers some slack is the best show of solidarity the BIR can offer in this time of uncertainty.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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