Gov’t out to collect income taxes from POGO foreign workers starting this month

Published July 24, 2019, 7:44 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government is determined to start collecting income taxes from foreign workers employed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) this month.

Department of Finance (DOF) Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Finance (DOF) Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino

Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino bared this after authorities uncovered around P2 billion in monthly foregone income tax revenues from POGO foreign workers.

Lambino said the POGO workers must contribute their “fair share” since Filipino workers regularly pay their taxes.

“The estimate in terms of personal income taxes, that should have been withheld but were not withheld, was a minimum of P2 billion a month. So according to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), collections will start this month, July 2019,” Lambino said during a Palace press briefing.

“It’s grossly unfair to the Filipino taxpayers who regularly and religiously pay their personal income taxes, while we have foreign nationals who are using the streets and other services that are provided by various agencies and not contributing their fair share,” he said.

Based on the initial government list, Lambino said there are around 138,000 foreign nationals working in the POGO sector in the country.

The inter-agency task force formed by Finance Secretary Carlo Dominguez is still “cleaning” the list of POGO workers to check for any “double entries.”

“It’s also difficult because the names are sometimes very similar. That’s why (Finance) Undersecretary (Antonette) Tionko of the Revenue Operations Group also instructed that the birthdays be included so that they can differentiate (it),” he said.

He added that the task force would determine “who are here, ilan sila, nasaan sila at ano ba ang dapat na contribution nila dito sa ating public services [how many they are, where they are and what should be their contribution to our public services] through the remittance of personal income taxes.”

The government had earlier issued a memorandum circular on the guidelines governing the entry of foreign workers in the country. Under the new rules, foreigners must secure proper work visa and tax identification number, among others, before being allowed to work in the country.