POGOs to be investigated for alleged failure to pay taxes

Photo: Jack Hamilton/Unsplash
Photo: Jack Hamilton/Unsplash

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said there might be some truth to allegations made by Senator Joel Villanueva that only two Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) have paid their taxes in the past year.

“We are conducting investigations of those allegations. It’s probably true, but you know, also because of the lockdown, our people cannot really go around so much, but we are monitoring,” said Dominguez in a virtual presser this morning.

Read: Malacañang backs plan to tax Pinoy online businesses despite criticisms

Dominguez added that it’s not only POGOs that the government, specifically the Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue (BIR), is monitoring for non-payment of taxes.

“We’re also monitoring the illegal illicit cigarette factories. We’ve closed down several warehouses, we’ve closed down one big factory there in Isabela, a big one, so we are doing it. However, because of the lockdown, our people cannot go around so much. People from [the] BIR and Customs,” added Dominguez.

Dominguez added that POGOs should be paying more taxes.

“We know that we can probably get close to PHP20 billion (US$400 million) a year, but we are not getting it. Last year we got PHP6 billion (US$119 million). Previous years maybe [we only got] PHP1 billion (US$19 million),” the secretary added.

Villanueva told reporters in a virtual presser that POGOs rarely pay taxes, and that they shouldn’t be allowed to resume operations for this reason. This comes after the government allowed them to partially restart their operations once they have paid the government what it’s due.

POGOs have sprouted all over the country since President Rodrigo Duterte, known for his cozy relationship with the Chinese government, came into power. Early this year, the BIR reported that at least 60 POGOs had failed to pay PHP50 billion in taxes in 2019.

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