The Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has warned that any Philippines Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) or service provider found operating will be immediately shut down after revealing not one has fully paid their tax obligations.
According to the Inquirer, BIR Deputy Commissioner and POGO task force head Arnel Guballa informed the media outlet on Thursday that POGOs were “still in the process of complying with the requirements, including payments,” but that none had so far been granted approval to resume operations following the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions across the country.
Any POGO found to be operating in the meantime would be deemed illegal and shutdown.
Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR revealed at the start of the month that it would allow POGOs to resume some operations in order to boost government revenue for the fight against coronavirus. However, PAGCOR said at the time that all POGOs and their service providers must fulfil certain prerequisites before being given the green light, including settling any outstanding tax liabilities as certified by the BIR, updating payment of any regulatory fees, license fees, performance bonds or penalties owed to PAGCOR, and remittance of all regulatory fees for the month of April.
Three weeks later none have fully complied.
In issuing its warning, the Department of Finance said the BIR was “making sure that POGOs and their respective service providers are properly registered and will pay the correct amount of income taxes and franchise fees to the government before they are allowed to resume operations during the quarantine period.
“All POGO licensees, operators and service providers should also submit a notarized undertaking affirming their commitment to pay all tax arrears for prior years of their operations and should be registered with the respective revenue district office having jurisdiction over their places of business.”
There are currently 60 approved POGO operators in the Philippines under which 218 service providers are registered.