BIR can monitor Axie Infinity players when they cash in: tax expert

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2021 06:20 PM | Updated as of Aug 26 2021 09:23 AM

Screengrab from Axie Infinity game
Screengrab from Axie Infinity game

MANILA - The Philippines’ main tax agency will find it hard to monitor users of play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity, but it can monitor the cryptocurrency exchanges where the earnings from these games are turned into real money, a tax expert said on Wednesday. 

Mon Abrea, who consults for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, said the recent circular of the agency reminding people who earn from producing online content, also applies to those who earn from playing online games.

While the BIR may not be able to audit small-time earners, big-time earners will be on the Bureau’s radar, according to Abrea.

“As far as I am concerned, I think they will simply check who are the top influencers, top YouTubers, top online gamers, and that will set an example for those who are not registering and not paying their taxes,” he said. 

On Tuesday, BIR Deputy Commissioner Marissa Cabrerors said all online income is taxable and people who earn from playing Axie Infinity and other games also need to register with the tax agency.

But she also said that registration does not automatically mean that a person will be taxed. 
“Kung ang annual net income sa buong taon ay hindi naman lalagpas sa P250,000, zero percent po ang tax rate nyan, so wala pong babayarang income tax. Kaya yung mga sinasabi na ‘Maliit lang kami, wala kaming gaanong kinikita pa,’ wala ho silang dapat ikatakot.” 

(If their annual net income is less than P250,000, their tax rate is zero so they don’t have to pay income tax. So those who say ‘We’re still small, we’re not making a lot of money yet,’ you have nothing to fear.)

But Cabreras also warned influencers, content creators and online gamers that the Bureau can go after them if they don’t register. 

“Paunawa, wag na sanang umabot sa puntong magkakasuhan pa may kakabit po syang fine and imprisonment clause.” 

(Warning, hopefully it doesn’t come to a point where cases are filed because that entails fines and imprisonment.)

Floi Wycoco, an influencer and financial literacy coach who also plays Axie, also said people who earn from the online economy also need to pay their dues. 

But Wycoco also said it won’t be easy for the government. 

“If we are talking about how BIR will tax this, medyo it will be a challenge,” Wycoco said.