The Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is once again reminding its online operation licensees to comply with local laws, and importantly, pay their taxes. The Manila Times reports the regulator’s Vice President, Jose Tria Jr., is stressing that all laws have to be followed, and PAGCOR is here to help if there’s any confusion.
In a written statement, Tria commented that all Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) “to strictly comply with all the rules, regulations and directives of all other government agencies which may have jurisdiction over the other aspects of your operations.” That includes ensuring that employees brought in form overseas obtain their visas, and that all taxes are paid to the government.
The tax bit seems to be the driving reason for the reminder, as Tria harped on it some more. “Finally, for those under-declaring the income tax of their employees, be sternly warned that you will be placed under strict scrutiny by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for such actions. The practice of declaring income tax below industry standards will not be tolerated by the BIR and will be dealt accordingly,” Tria warned.
PAGCOR has stated previously that POGO operations generated PHP657 million ($12.8 million) in 2016, but that number has surged to PHP7.4 billion ($140 million) in 2018. Despite the industry booming, the regulator, Department of Finance (DoF) and the BIR suspect that many operators aren’t paying their fair share in taxes, as they believe foreign employees have evaded $430 million in taxes.
They calculated this figure based on a list of 138,000 foreign workers that they know of, who are paying taxes on only PHP20,000 ($389) a month, far below the expected $1,500 a month they are probably making.
They also think there’s probably more workers out there that they don’t know about yet. Victor Padilla, PAGCOR’s senior manager of policy, said that they are considering penalties for POGOs who have yet to submit lists of their foreign employees.
PAGCOR is in a sticky situation with these POGO employees. They rightfully want to enforce the laws they have on the books, but President Rodrigo Duterte has discouraged the Bureau of Immigration from cracking down on Chinese foreign workers. Since they can’t go directly at the problem, they’re going after their pocketbooks instead.