Gov’t Tax Collections Recede as POGOs Flee COVID-19 in the Philippines
The government’s tax collections from the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) are declining as they close shops and leave the Philippines to escape its COVID-19 situation.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) states that the collections of tax obligations from POGOs are still ongoing, but due to recent events, the collections were lower in comparison to those before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Gabulla states, “The issue is still the same, POGOs are closing down because they are afraid of COVID-19. Plenty of Chinese workers’ visas were canceled and they went back to China because there are plenty of positive cases in the Philippines.”
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which regulates the POGO industry, has listed 55 registered operators as of September 8, which is lower from the previous list of 60 at the beginning of the year.
According to PAGCOR, among the listed registered operators, only 29 have been issued authorization to resume their operations as of September 8.
Gabulla also expressed that POGOs are also leaving the Philippines due to problems with taxation. In May, the BIR issued rules that required POGOs and their service providers to pay their taxes first before resuming their operations.
Revenue Commissioner Ceasar Dulay announced to PAGCOR back in July that, “POGO licensees or operators are not being assessed nor paying income tax and other taxes because the BIR’s RMC 102-2017 clearly states that in lieu of such taxes, they are only subject to the franchise tax.”
According to the latest data from PAGCOR, as of September 8, 99 accredited local gaming agents and service providers have been allowed to resume their operations.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were up to 218 POGO service providers that employed approximately 150,000 people, most of whom were Chinese nationals.