DOF won’t extend April 15 tax filing deadline despite COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 13) — The Department of Finance said it will not extend the April 15 deadline for filing and paying taxes, but leeway may be given to taxpayers affected by the month-long lockdown of Metro Manila.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III clarified that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) cannot push back the tax filing deadline as it was set under the law.

“We cannot extend the April 15 deadline, but we can allow amendment of returns without payment of interest, subject to certain conditions,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a Friday press briefing, relaying Dominguez’s message.

The Finance chief went on self-quarantine after learning that he came in contact with someone who eventually tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced a set of interventions to contain COVID-19, which include cancelling classes and suspending government work until April 12. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles clarified that frontline agencies can maintain a skeleton workforce to keep services running, including tax payment processing.

Metro Manila will be on lockdown starting Sunday midnight until April 14, with the government raising the alert on COVID-19 to the highest level. Traveling to and from the region is prohibited during the period, but authorities said exemptions will be given. 

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Employees, professionals, and companies usually flock to the BIR’s district offices to beat the mid-April filing deadline, even if payments can be accepted as early as January. Bureau officials earlier appealed for taxpayers to settle early to avoid huge crowds, in keeping with the “social distancing” protocol amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. This involves staying about a meter away from other people to contain the spread of the disease.

The BIR has been promoting e-filing, or using its online portal for tax returns. Payments can also be done through bank transfers and e-wallet transactions through Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, PayMaya, and GCash.

“I-utilize natin ang technology. Kung paper lang ‘yan na kailangang ipadala, hindi na kailangan siguro ng physical presence [Let’s utilize technology. If it’s just a document that needs to be sent, maybe there’s no need for physical presence],” Nograles said.