Washington, March 12 (IANS) US President Donald Trump’s administration was considering postponing the April 15 tax filing deadline for individual taxpayers and small businesses to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

“We are looking at providing substantial relief to certain taxpayers and small businesses who will be able to get extensions on their taxes,” Xinhua news agency quoted Mnuchin as saying at a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations on Wednesday.

“We think we can provide over $200 billion of liquidity into the economy by delaying certain tax payments,” he said, adding the Treasury does not need Congress to approve the delay.

“This we can do on an administrative basis. We don’t need Congress,” Mnuchin said.

Treasury officials were still considering how far the filing deadline may be pushed back and who will be eligible for the extension, Xinhua news agency quoted a Wall Street Journal report as saying.

Mnuchin also urged Congress to quickly pass legislation to provide substantial relief for workers and small businesses hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We urge Congress to act quickly. The president very much wants to consider a stimulus bill, whether it’s through a payroll tax or otherwise,” he said, noting the first priority is funding that will go for small and medium-sized businesses that are directly impacted by the epidemic.

“There are a large number of workers that are going to be required to self quarantine or be at home to take care of family members who are self quarantined,” he said.

Mnuchin’s remarks came as US equities plunged again on Wednesday with the Dow plummeting more than 1,000 points around midday, as fears of the spread of the coronavirus continued to grip Wall Street.

Last week, the US Federal Reserve lowered the target range for the federal funds rate by 50 basis points to 1-1.25 per cent, its first emergency rate cut since the 2008 financial crisis as COVID-19 posed “evolving risks” to economic activity.

The US has so far reported over 1,000 coronavirus cases with 29 fatalities.




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