Padlocked POGO settles tax liability with BIR

Published October 22, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chino S. Leyco

Padlocked offshore gaming service provider Altech Innovations Business Outsourcing has settled its initial tax liability with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

In a report submitted to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III late Monday, the BIR said that Altech Innovations vowed to pay its tax liability of P45 million, representing the company’s unremitted withholding taxes of its foreign employees.

Based on BIR assessment in coordination with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as well as Bureau of Immigration, Altech Innovations employs around 300 to 390 foreigners who are mostly Chinese.

Dominguez said Altech Innovations made an initial payment of P8.2 million to the BIR on Monday and will pay the remaining balance of P37 million in November and December. The company also promised to update its 2019 income tax payments.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa said the P45 million settlement only accounted for the employees income taxes and not the company’s liability for violating the value-added tax (VAT) registration.

“The problem with these foreign workers, based on the data we gathered from Pagcor, immigration and DOLE, they have this ‘come and go’ scheme that’s why you can’t really determine their tax liabilities,” Guballa said.

But Guballa assured that Altech Innovations’ tax payment was just an initial as the BIR continues to look into the books of the service provider for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO).

“We make things simple for now, we go after the foreign workers then the VAT. We can’t do all these things at the same time considering our limited manpower. Assessing the VAT liability is a tedious process,” he explained.

Guballa also disclosed that Altech Innovations claimed it operated its branch in Pasay City only around three to four months in 2018, which the BIR has to validate with the data provided by other government agencies.

“Reconciliation and substantiation of records are ongoing. BIR records were collected from Pagcor, immigration and DOLE,” he said.

Altech Innovations was back in business Tuesday after making a commitment to pay its tax assessment, the BIR official revealed.

Guballa, meanwhile, reiterated that the DOF and BIR crackdown against tax-dodging POGOs continues, noting they will maintain the “element of surprise” in conducting their raids on unscrupulous service providers.

Last week, he said the government’s enforcement activity against tax evading POGO service providers will intensify until they get rid of non-compliant online casinos operating in the country.

“We want to tell them, these service providers, that in the Philippines, they should comply with the tax laws,” Guballa said after the BIR shuttered two branches of Altech Innovations in Parañaque and Pasay City last Thursday.