By Chino S. Leyco
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is expecting service providers for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) to voluntarily comply with the country’s tax laws to avoid closure.
BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa said yesterday that the government’s enforcement activity against tax evading POGO service providers will continue until they get rid of unscrupulous 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 told reporters after the BIR shuttered two branches of POGO service provider Altech Innovations Business Outsourcing in Parañaque and Pasay City.
The BIR, in coordination with the Department of Finance, ordered the closure of Altech Innovations for failure to register as a value added tax (VAT) taxpayer.
Guballa also said the POGO service provider that employs around 1,000 foreign workers who are mostly Chinese also does remit the withholding taxes of its employees.
“We should be fair. Filipinos or foreigners, they should be paying their taxes here in the Philippines because we need these revenues for nation building especially with the ‘Build, Build, Build’ of the administration,” the BIR official said.
However, Guballa said the tax bureau expects “an increase in voluntary compliance because of the enforcement activity that we’re doing. If we can see that they are complying, then we will not do this tax enforcement activity.”
He said the BIR will only allow Altech Innovations to reopen its two branches once the service provider settles and complies with all the conditions provided by the tax bureau, particularly its tax liabilities amounting to “hundreds of millions.”
Guballa, meanwhile, said the BIR’s concern only covers taxes, noting the issues on work visas and permit to operate are under the Bureau of Immigration and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., respectively.
Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II, who also led the Task Force POGO yesterday, said the BIR’s enforcement activity a fair implementation of the tax code to make sure all are complying with their duties, liabilities, and responsibilities with the government.
Last week, Guballa said the BIR already monitored 218 POGO service providers with exactly 108,914 foreign national employees who are mostly Chinese. Guballa initially reported that BIR income tax collection from POGO foreign workers reached P1.4 billion as of August this year. However, he said that this amount further increased by additional P230 million to P1.63 billion.