BIR, DOF urged to extend deadline for ITR filing

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2021   •   403

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay on Wednesday called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Finance (DOF) to reconsider their decision not to extend the April 15 deadline for the filing and payment of annual income tax returns for the year 2020.

“I-extend na lang sana ang April 15 deadline, kahit na sa NCR Plus lang. We already extended last year dahil sa enhanced community quarantine. Nasa parehong sitwasyon tayo a year later, kaya hindi ko naiintindihan bakit hindi mapagbigyan,” Binay said in a statement.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa on Monday said the bureau would not be extending the deadline due to the government’s need to reach its revenue targets to fund the pandemic response.

As a relief for taxpayers, Dulay said the BIR will allow the filing of a tentative ITR before the deadline and give them until May 15 to amend the returns without penalties.

If overpayment of taxes will be made on the revised ITRs, the bureau said taxpayers can either file for a refund, or choose to carry over the overpaid tax as a credit against the tax due for the same tax type in the following period.

But Binay said individual taxpayers and even micro and small businesses would find it difficult to comply, in the first place, given the restrictions on movement.

“Ang talo kasi rito iyong mga indibidwal at maliliit na negosyo na limitado ang kapasidad na kumpletuhin ang mga requirements dahil sa lockdown. So para sa kanila, walang bearing ang no-penalty amendments dahil baka mismong pag-file hindi nila magawa,” she said.

The senator also said that even corporate taxpayers would be pressed for time in adjusting their payments to the lower rates provided as relief by the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, which President Rodrigo Duterte only signed on March 26. The BIR released the law’s draft implementing rules and regulations on Tuesday.

Binay also stressed that a deadline extension does not mean non-payment.

“Hindi naman dahil extended ay hindi na magbabayad. Those who are able to will file and pay. Ang panawagan lang naman natin is not to penalize those who are unable to comply because of the difficulties presented by the lockdown,” she said.

Based on the BIR’s monthly collection goal, the agency aims to collect P235.237 billion in April.

The BIR said taxpayers or assigned officers can also use their electronic signatures in filing returns, attachments, and other documents needed, which will be considered as actual signatures.

It recently allowed taxpayers to file their returns and make payments anywhere, or even outside the area covered by Revenue District Offices where they are registered, without incurring penalties.

DOF: Temporary reduction of pork import tariffs ‘immediate, practicable’ solution to check inflation

Robie de Guzman   •   April 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to allow more pork imports at lower tariffs for a temporary period is an “immediate and practicable” response to avoid price spikes, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Tuesday.

During the resumption of the Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry into the food crisis resulting from the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, Dominguez said the measure was intended to protect Filipino consumers form price spirals that could further drive up inflation and undermine the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The DOF chief noted that the spike in meat prices this year has unduly jacked up food inflation, thus “exacerbating the problems of unemployment, hunger and reduced or lost incomes for many Filipinos” that have led people to rely on community pantries for aid.

Dominguez, a former agriculture secretary, said that although the presidential directive appears to be a painful solution as it would lead to a revenue loss of P13.68 billion for the government, this would actually slash pork prices to a level estimated to save Filipino consumers a whopping P67.38 billion.

“The worse we could do in a situation like the one we are facing today is to let supply issues force food prices up even more. If food prices rise, the inflation rate also increases. If the inflation rate rises, interest rate increases will follow. This unhealthy chain of events will make economic recovery even more difficult for all,” the finance chief told senators.

“The short-term and only practicable strategy for the current problem is contained in Executive Order 128,” he added.

EO 128 temporarily cuts the tariff rate on pork imports within the minimum access volume (MAV) quota to 5 percent, from the current rate of 30 percent, for the first three months upon the effectivity of the presidential directive. The reduced rate will go up to 10 percent for the next nine months thereafter.

It also increases the MAV quota for pork from 54,210 metric tons (MT) to 404,210 MT.

“Again, more than the economics of it, EO 128 is a response to protect our people from shortages and price spikes during this difficult time. We need to do it now for the sake of our countrymen,” Dominguez said.

He also explained that the increase in the MAV quota for pork factors in the estimated supply deficit for 2021 at up to 477,000 MT based on estimates by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Thus, the temporary increase in pork imports will not ‘kill’ the local hog industry as feared by some quarters, given that imports would potentially account for only up to 22.8 percent of total consumption,” Dominguez said.

The Finance chief also emphasized that the decision to adjust pork import tariffs “was not done haphazardly, but underwent extensive deliberations and consultations among the public and concerned agencies, with all the tradeoffs considered in the cost-benefit analysis.”

“We are not giving up on the domestic pork industry. The interventions of the Department of Agriculture to help the industry are aggressive. They expect them to yield even greater benefits once a permanent solution to the ASF outbreak becomes available,” Dominguez said.

DOF urges Congress to support Duterte order to increase pork imports at lower tariff rates

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has called on lawmakers to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to temporarily increase pork importations at lower tariff rates to address pork supply woes in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Dominguez said the recommendation to the President to temporarily reduce pork import tariffs and increase the minimum access volume (MAV) on pork imports was made by him and the administration’s economic development cluster (EDC) “after extensive deliberations and consultations among concerned agencies and the public, with all the tradeoffs considered in the cost-benefit analysis done on this major consumer concern.”

In a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Dominguez said that as Chairman of the Cabinet’s Economic Development Cluster (EDC), he was taking full responsibility for supporting and recommending to the President to sign Executive Order (EO) No. 128, which temporarily modified the rates of the import duties on fresh, chilled and frozen meat of swine and increased the MAV on such imports.

Dominguez pointed out in his letter that the period of the tariff adjustment under the EO emphasizes that “this is a short-term effort that does not aim to harm the domestic industry” and is actually “complementary to the programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in helping the domestic hog industry to recover.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Senate to support this measure so that some 100 million Filipinos who eat pork, especially the poor, will not be penalized by high food prices. If left unresolved, poverty and malnutrition will increase,” Dominguez said in his letter.

“Elevated pork prices will add another problem to households whose incomes have already been heavily strained by the COVID-19 pandemic. With African Swine Fever (ASF) raging through farms for almost two years, data show that domestic supply will remain inadequate for the needs of consumers,” he added.

Pork prices in the National Capital Region (NCR) have already reached as high as P327 per kilo in March 2021, which is 59 percent higher compared to last year.

In March 2021, meat inflation increased to 20.9 percent and was the top contributor to overall inflation of 1.4 percentage points, even higher than the 1 percent contribution to inflation of rice at the height of the 2018 rice crisis.

Dominguez said that to resolve the ASF crisis gripping the domestic hog industry, the DA has put in place several programs, among them, repopulating the swine population, compensating producers for losses in culled hogs, and investing in long-term solutions to the problems of the swine industry.

He pointed out though that these are medium-term and long-term solutions that will not immediately address the current price pressures affecting pork consumers.

Contrary to misperceptions, the DA does not intend to rely on importation alone to solve supply issues in the long haul, the DOF chief said.

“Even with increased imports, a large part of domestic demand is expected to be covered by domestic production, which the DA will aggressively support with improved implementation of its hog production assistance and repopulation program,” Dominguez said.

BOC, BIR to start field testing enforcement on fuel products on April 26

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have announced their intention to begin Field Testing Enforcement activities on fuel products beginning April 26.

The testing covers gasoline, diesel, and kerosene found in warehouses, storage tanks, gas stations, other retail outlets, and in such other properties, to check if they contain the required Fuel Marker level.

Vessels, tank trucks, and similar fuel transporting vehicles will also be covered by the enforcement activities.

Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, petroleum products found without the Official Fuel Marker or not containing the required level of the Official Fuel Marker are subject to payment of duties and taxes, as well as appropriate fines and penalties.

The payment is without prejudice to the confiscation and forfeiture of such Unmarked or Diluted Fuel and the filing of the appropriate criminal case.

The Field Testing process will be done using Mobile Laboratory Units equipped with analyzers capable of detecting the Official Fuel Marker’s presence in any fuel sample.

The test result will be generated on-site and will indicate a pass or fail result. Products with failed results will be subjected to Confirmatory Testing in the Fuel Testing Facility.

For purposes of transparency, the owner of the fuel or his representative will be allowed to witness the Field and Confirmatory Testing.

The two Bureaus began the Transitory Field Testing activities in February this year and will continue until April 26, 2021.

Under the Transitory Field Testing, sample fuels from retail stations and tank trucks in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces were tested to determine the marker levels in the fuel supply available in the domestic market.

The Fuel Marking Program aims to raise revenues while curbing fuel smuggling and leveling the Philippine oil industry.

Beginning its implementation in September 2019 to December 2020, the BOC and BIR marked a total of 17.55 billion liters of fuel and have collected Php171.72 billion in duties and taxes under the program.

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