P6.42B from drive to dun errant POGOs

January 29, 2020

The government was able to collect a total of P6.42 billion in taxes from Philippine offshore gaming operators and their service providers last year -- P4.04 billion or 169 percent more than the collection of P2.38 billion from these businesses in the previous year.

This increased tax take was the result of a sustained campaign spearheaded by Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III to crack down on errant POGOs and their service providers that have eschewed tax payments, including the income taxes that the government should be collecting from foreign nationals working for these firms.

Starting in March 2019, Dominguez called for a series of meetings with officials of various government agencies responsible for collating data on foreign nationals working here to firm up a plan on how the government can effectively collect an estimated P22 billion in taxes from these workers employed in POGOs and other related industries based in the country.

The meetings included members of an interagency task force led by the Department of Labor and Employment that monitors the entry of foreign workers here, along with officials from the Bureaus of Internal Revenue  and of Immigration, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Securities and Exchange Commission and the special economic zones that host these online gaming corporations.

During the interagency meetings held at least twice a month, the Finance chief spurred members of this group to collate a database of foreign workers primarily employed in POGOs, to, as he repeatedly told them, “enable the BIR to do its job of collecting taxes”.

He also pointed out in those meetings that it was grossly unfair to Filipino taxpayers dutifully paying their taxes for these POGO employees to continue avoiding paying their taxes.

Dominguez continued to preside over the regular meetings of the group until the BIR started to actually collect taxes from errant POGO service providers and shut down the operations of delinquent ones.

On his initiative, a joint memorandum circular was also issued mobilizing various government agencies to run after tax-evading foreign workers.

The JMC consolidated the rules governing foreign workers intending to work in the country and requires aliens to secure a Taxpayer Identification Numbers before they are given work permits.

JMC Circular 001, series of 2019, was signed in July by Dominguez, Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestre Bello III, Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra, BIR commissioner Cesar Dulay, Professional Regulation Commission chairman Teofilo Pilando, National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency Director-General Alex Paul Monteagudo, Pagcor chairperson Andrea Domingo and representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, BI and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.