DOF: Gov’t to collect P18-B in unpaid 2019 taxes from POGOs

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government is committed to collect around P18 billion in unpaid withholding taxes from Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) last year, a Department of Finance (DOF) official said Wednesday.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino said the government has so far collected around P6.4 billion from POGOs and service providers as of end-2019.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II (Office of the Presidential Spokesperson FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II (Office of the Presidential Spokesperson FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

The government is supposed to collect at least P2 billion a month in withholding taxes from POGOs, Lambino said.

“Tuloy-tuloy ang operations ng Task Force POGO. Tuloy-tuloy ang pagsara ng hindi nagbabayad ng tamang buwis (The operations of Task Force POGO continue. The closure of those not paying the right taxes will also continue),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

In addition, Lambino said the DOF fully supports measures in Congress to raise taxes on offshore gaming operators and their service providers. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has filed a bill seeking the efficient implementation of a five percent franchise tax on revenues generated by POGOs.

Under existing revenue regulations, Lambino said POGOs are already subject to a five percent franchise tax.

“They really do owe us that five percent franchise tax because they registered with PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation). By virtue of registration with PAGCOR, that means they have operations here in the Philippines,” he said.

He noted that a POGO company was recently shut down for failure to pay franchise tax amounting to P114 million.

The country has around 60 POGOs and 200 service providers with around 120,000 workers, mostly Chinese nationals, Lambino said.

President Duterte earlier declared that there is no corruption in the POGOs despite the alleged irregularities such as money laundering linked to the industry. He said these offshore gaming operations are “clean” and in fact generate huge revenues and employment in the country.

Priority measures

Lambino said the President has also backed the passage of amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and the Bank Secrecy Law, as well as the planned automatic exchange of information with foreign tax authorities.

The measures are part of the administration’s list of priority measures following a recent meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

“There are three pieces that we are advocating. It could happen that they all get passed in one law or in a complementary law,” he said. “The President agreed that these are priority measures.”

Lambino also said they still have to connect the dots to establish the “direct link” between POGOs and the huge funds allegedly laundered in the country.

“I think the POGO and money coming in, the direct link between them is to be established still,” he said. “And in order to connect all of these dots, we need to amend those laws and we need to lift absolute bank secrecy and institutionalize the automatic exchange of information.”