Philippines taxman goes after POGOs and their employees

Philippines taxman goes after POGOs and their employees

Philippines taxman goes after POGOs and their employeesThe Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is doing everything it can to make sure it’s revenues from online gambling operators are complete. A couple of reports recently reflect that the BIR is taking a harder look at Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and every penny involved with them.

On April 16, local outlet Business World reported the BIR is taking a harder look at unregistered foreign workers, and specifically those working for POGOs. BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa said his agency will work with the Interagency Task Force to make sure foreigners are taxed appropriately.

“DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) will now require foreigners, before they are given work permits, to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the BIR,” he said.

His estimate is that there are 130,000 foreigners working for POGOs, but also as many as 2,000 working outside the gambling industry.

There’s also concern that many of those registered to legally work in the country could be hiding their true incomes. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has said that some of those on the list have no Taxpayer Identification Numbers, and that their reported salaries were only around PHP20,000 ($386) monthly, which for a foreigner, is “ridiculously low.”

The hope is that if all foreigners, who’s true income is expected to be in the region of $1,500 a month, are taxed according to local laws, BIR could expect PHP32 billion ($618 million) in revenue.

That’s not the only way the BIR is looking to improve their bottom line. According to a report by the Manila Times, the BIR will be auditing the POGO licensees themselves.

Part of their suspicion that they aren’t getting everything owed to them is the low number of POGOs registered with the BIR. Of the 54 POGOs in the country, 15 are registered with the BIR, suggesting the remainder still have some numbers to show.

POGOs were mandated to register with the BIR in September 2018, as a requirement for their license. The BIR is asking the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to take action if they don’t register.