THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is making sure that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (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, a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III showed.
According to the set of guidelines and requirements issued by the BIR, all Pogo licensees or operators should first show proof that they have already paid their 2019 franchise taxes, their withholding taxes due for the months of January to April this year, as well as the first quarter payments of their 2020 franchise tax, before they would be given tax clearances allowing them to resume operations.
Pogo service providers, meanwhile, are similarly required to submit proof that they have paid their 2019 income taxes; and remitted and paid withholding taxes for the months of January to April this year, including the 25 percent final withholding tax due from their foreign employees, before the BIR would give them tax clearances to reopen for business.
Tax compliant Pogo service providers would not be issued tax clearances by the BIR should their Pogo operators or licensees fail to comply with the bureau’s new requirements.
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.
Pogos in Mactan
On May 1, 2020, the country’s coronavirus task force allowed Pogos mostly based in Metro Manila, to re-open with up to 30 percent of their workforce after fulfilling requirements.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed the development, saying Pogos are business process management (BPM) companies, a characterization BPM industry stakeholders have objected to.
“Our industry mainly employs talented Filipinos who are contributing positively through taxes and local consumption, and their earnings are practically spent here in our country,” Wilfredo Sa-a, Cebu IT BPM.Organization managing director, told SunStar Cebu.
“Pogos employ mostly Chinese and some are not even paying taxes and they remit back their salaries to China,” Sa-a added.
BPM companies are registered under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority or the Board of Investments while Pogos are registered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Outside of Metro Manila, Pogos also operate in Cebu Province, specifically in Lapu-Lapu City. But James Allan Sayson, Lapu-Lapu City legal officer, said they haven’t received any information yet from Pogo operators in Lapu-Lapu City to resume operations.
“But the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte made no distinction as to the locality of the Pogo,” he said.
The presence of an international airport and condominium developments were key considerations of gaming operators when relocating. Lapu-Lapu City tourism officer Edward Mendez earlier said the city is getting a lot of inquiries from Pogo locators.
Aside from securing a clearance from the BIR, all Pogos and their service providers must also strictly adhere to the government’s safety and health protocols such as limited operations per shift, shuttle services for employees, regular body temperature checks and disinfection within the workplace, social distancing and wearing of masks, among other measures to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus. (JOB with PR)