The Philippines Department of Finance (DoF) is making good on its promise to crack down on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) after ordering the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to immediately shut down any operators found not to be paying their taxes.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the order on Sunday in response to a recent BIR report highlighting the slow pace of POGO tax collections, despite having issued 130 notices related to tax liabilities totaling Php21.62 billion.
According to the DoF, Dominguez pushed the idea of shutting down those online operators who failed to pay their taxes during a Friday meeting with members of an interagency task force monitoring the entry of foreign workers into the country.
“Why don’t we start closing them down so they will answer these assessments?” he said. “Those who don’t pay or respond to your assessments, clamp them down.”
Dominguez has also instructed the BIR to ensure POGOs pay tax liabilities for each individual worker, rejecting any potential for lump sum payments in lieu of arrears obligations.
“The collection should be per individual,” the Finance chief said. “You force the issue and you bring them to court … close them down,” he said.
In response, BIR deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa has requested the assistance of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and gaming regulator PAGCOR in shutting down errant POGOs.
Despite some POGOs still withholding payments, tax revenue from the segment has soared in 2019 with Guballa revealing the BIR has so far collected Php1.4 billion from POGOs through August – already 242% more than the Php579 million collected in all of 2018.