The government collected P6.42 billion in taxes from Philippine offshore gaming operators and their service providers in 2019, P4.04 billion or 169 percent more than P2.38 billion in the previous year, the Department of Finance said over the weekend.
The DOF said in a statement the higher tax take was the result of a sustained campaign spearheaded by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to crack down on errant POGOs and their service providers that eschewed tax payments, including the income taxes that the government should be collecting from foreign nationals working for these companies.
Dominguez starting in March called for a series of meetings with officials of several government agencies responsible for collating data on foreign nationals working here to firm up a plan on how the government could effectively collect an estimated P22 billion in taxes from these workers employed in POGOs and other related industries.
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.
Dominguez during the interagency meetings held at least twice a month spurred members of the group to collate a database of foreign workers primarily employed in POGOs, to “enable the BIR to do its job of collecting taxes.”
He said 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.
BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa initially estimated around 103,000 foreign workers in the POGO industry, and finally came up with a list of about 108,914 employed by 218 POGO service providers after cleaning up data provided by Pagcor, DOLE, BI and the ecozones.