POGOs to stay shut unless taxes are fully paid: BIR


Posted at Jun 17 2020 10:40 AM

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MANILA -- Unless they pay their tax liabilities full, offshore gaming firms or POGOs should not be allowed to reopen, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said Wednesday.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp ordered Philippines Offshore Gaming Operations to settle all tax dues first before restarting under virus quarantines.

"Meron naman gustong mag comply, magbayad, kaya lang sabi namin dapat medyo makumpleto ang kanilang dapat bayaran sa BIR at sa PAGCOR," said Bureau of Internal Revenue deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa.

(Many of them want to comply, to pay but we said they need to complete their liabilities with BIR and PAGCOR)

Asked by Teleradyo's Ted Failon if no POGO was operating yet due to liabilities, Guballa answered in the affirmative.

The offshore firms that employ mostly Chinese nationals should pay all tax obligations up to March 2020, pay the salaries of 31,600 Filipino workers during the coronavirus suspension and a "guarantee fee" to the government before they can reopen, PAGCOR earlier said.

The BIR and POGO lawyers are in a "stalemate" on the issue of franchise tax, or 5 percent of gaming revenues, as POGOs claim that their clients are overseas. 

"Yung franchise tax ang sabi po kasi ng abogado, foreign kami, offshore kami, walang jurisdiction ang Pilipinas...Yung batas kasi natin hindi siya ganon klarong klaro kaya naging issue ito," Guballa said.

(According to their lawyers, the franchise tax is not applicable since they are foreign-based, over which the Philippines has no jurisdiction. Our laws is not that clear that's why this is an issue)

Guballa said the Justice Department has not been approached yet to clarify the matter.

Several lawmakers are pushing for investigations on POGOs due to alleged labor, tax issues and crimes in their communities.