Tax returns on the way

Top News | Sophie Hui 4 May 2021

The Inland Revenue Department has started sending out some 2.62 million tax returns for individuals for the year 2020-21.

Most taxpayers should file their tax returns within one month by June 3, the department said as it sent out the returns nicknamed "green bombs" due to their color.

For sole proprietors of unincorporated businesses, a three-month period is allowed, pushing the deadline to August 3.

Those filing their returns online through eTax will be granted with an automatic extension of one month, extending the deadline to July 3 for general cases and September 3 for sole proprietors.

To answer inquiries about the returns, the department will, until July 2, extend service hours of its hotline at 187-8022 to 7pm on weekdays and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Under an initiative announced in this year's budget, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said salaries tax, tax under personal assessment and profits tax will be reduced by 100 percent, subject to a ceiling of HK$10,000 per case.

The ceiling was HK$20,000 last year,when taxpayers were also given an automatic three-month extension for payment amid the pandemic.

The government also said last August that taxpayers who were having financial difficulties in paying on time could apply to the Inland Revenue Department to have their taxes paid by installments. No surcharge would be imposed provided that taxpayers adhered to the installment plans.

Authorities have yet to announce if they will continue such policies this year.

The 2020-21 tax year covered the period when the city was hit by economic recession and unemployment deteriorated. The jobless rate reached a 17-year high at 7.2 percent for the quarter from December 2020 to February 2021, before improving to 6.8 percent in the first quarter this year.

Terence Chong Tai-leung, an associate professor in economics at Chinese University, believed the government's revenue from salaries taxes would not be significantly reduced this year.

He said the revenue mainly comes from those earning high salaries, while people who earn under HK$200,000 a year usually do not need to pay tax after the concessions.

"Unemployment in the high-salary group is not serious. Some people even earned more last year, like those working in the financial sector," Chong said.

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