By Chino S. Leyco
Foreign nationals working in the Philippines should pay all taxes imposed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Filipino citizens, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
According to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, there is no other tax regime being implemented by the BIR for foreigners, including those in the Philippine offshore gaming operation (POGO), who are legally employed in the country on short and long-term period.
For this reason, Dominguez said foreigners should pay the appropriate personal income tax to the national government, like what a Filipino citizen does.
“They have to collect taxes from all foreign workers working here because it's very unfair to Filipinos,” Dominguez told reporters. “There's a mechanism, but I don't know what happened. All I know is we're not collecting the tax.”
Based on the latest discussion of the DOF last Friday with the Department of Labor and Employement (DOLE), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), and the Bureau of Immigration, there are 138,000 foreign workers in POGO, most of them Chinese.
“Right now, I told them to reconcile all the names, addresses, TINs and for the DOLE, the Immigration, Pagcor and other agencies, reconcile all the names down first and make sure that we have a good handle on who are the people here and whether or not they pay taxes,” the finance chief said.
“This is law enforcement and we are going to enforce the law,” Dominguez assured.
Earlier, Dominguez said that several “inconsistencies” in government records were discovered by the interagency task force formed to monitor the tax compliance of foreign nationals working in POGO.
“There are still gaps in the numbers and we need to close those gaps. In our computations, there is at least P22 billion a year not being collected in the income taxes from these POGO workers who could possibly exceed 100,000 in number,” Dominguez said.
“We have to get a clear picture here,” Dominguez said. “If we do not have that, how can the BIR do its job, which is to collect taxes from everybody so that we are being fair to all Filipinos who are paying their taxes?"