Dominguez: Only health, tax-compliant POGOs can reopen
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief economic manager on Tuesday reiterated that only registered and tax-compliant Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) can resume operations during quarantine as the government eyes to collect more revenues to be spent on COVID-19 response.
“No Pogo will be allowed unless they are compliant with all government laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, those involving health and taxation,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.
But even as Malacañang had classified Pogos as similar to business process outsourcing firms, Dominguez said that these gaming companies were not exempted from paying franchise tax to the state-run regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
“There must be express provision of law granting tax exemption,” Dominguez said, citing a statement from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The government had been running after errant POGOs that did not remit the withholding taxes of their mostly Chinese workers and firms that did not pay corporate income and franchise taxes.
In February, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) shuttered an allegedly tax-evading POGO licensee after previously shutting down four POGO service providers.
POGO licensees tap service providers to be the ones that actually communicate with their clients — online gamblers outside the Philippines, mostly in China.
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