DOF: Initial inspections revealed 12,000 foreign workers not paying taxes
MANILA, Philippines — The government is going after an initial 12,000 illegal foreign workers, mostly in the Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo) sector, who are not paying taxes, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Monday.
In a statement, DOF said Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III last week ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to team up and “step up” their inspections of establishments employing unregistered aliens.
During the meeting of the interagency task force monitoring and tracking down the foreign Pogo workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) reported that of the 148 establishments with a total of 37,000 foreign workers inspected to date, 12,000 Pogo employees across 33 companies were found lacking permits from both Dole and BI.
Also, Dole found out that 20 Pogo firms were unregistered as service providers with Pagcor.
The Dole report covered an initial two batches of establishments. It will next report on inspections in special economic zones as well as restaurants where foreigners were reportedly employed.
For the part of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said that from an initial data of 138,000 foreigners with work permits, the number has been reduced to 122,397 upon validation.
But Guballa said the assessment of 19 out of the 204 Pagcor-registered Pogo service providers showed a final withholding tax assessment for 2018 worth a total of P1.4 billion
DOF quoted Guballa as saying that the 19 Pogos the BIR already assessed “would be given the standard 10 days to reply to the assessments” while data on the remaining service providers were still being collated and cleansed at present, before their respective assessments will be issued to each of them as long as they already submitted a complete list of foreign workers.
As Dominguez wanted to collect personal income taxes from these Pogo-employed foreigners, who were mostly Chinese, he urged BI, Dole, Pagcor, as well as law enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to “get their act together to weed out illegal aliens working here.”
“Why don’t we step on the gas here? [The BIR] said 122,000 foreign workers. [Dole] already identified another 10 percent that are not registered, 12,000. As I’ve told you last time, the BIR has a job to do, to collect taxes. For them to be effective, everybody else has to contribute to their effectivity,” Dominguez said during the meeting.
DOF said Dominguez “will inform President Duterte about the outcome of the meeting and report that ‘we are making progress, but not fast enough’.”
Dominguez also urged BI to prioritize hunting down the 12,000 illegal foreign workers after he was told that the agency arrested a mere 393 unregistered foreigners last year.
“For the next meeting, we would like to see movement on the assessment, we would like to see inspections and closure of establishments with illegal foreign workers. So we’d like to see progress. And you know, if there are 12,000 that you found, there must be a lot more, a lot more who are floating around. This is a crime. It’s a violation of the law,” Dominguez said.
Last month, DOF said the government wanted to collect about P32 billion in unpaid income taxes from foreigners who work in the Pogo industry.
The figure was based on a rough computation by Dominguez on the assumption that about 138,000 foreign workers earned an average of $1,500 per month and paid the 25-percent personal income tax.
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