Many Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) are not likely to resume business unless a vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) becomes available and the tax rates are reduced, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials disclosed.
They said only about 15 POGOs are still operating from the previous total of 63 due to low revenues.
The workforce was also cut by about 70 percent to comply with the government’s pandemic protocol.
BIR sources said many Chinese workers were not allowed to return to the Philippines after celebrating their new year in China in February due to the health crisis.
The growth of the industry is dampened by the recent BIR regulations revising the tax rates, described by POGO lawyers as “unreasonable.”
Revenue Regulations 30-2020 required online gaming operators to remit to the BIR five percent of the gross bets as franchise tax, or the minimum guarantee fee, whichever is higher.
The regulations also prescribed the remittance of two percent of the gross winnings to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation as license fee.
In addition, they are also mandated to withhold and remit to the BIR 15 percent of the salaries of their foreign workers as income tax.
POGOs are also subject to pay income and value-added taxes on non-gaming activities like sale of goods and services.
The regulations stated that income from this source will be exclusively used to contain the virus.