BIR shutters first tax-evading Pogo even as raid hit snag
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Friday (Feb. 21) shuttered licensed Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) Synchronization Anywhere For You Inc., as the Pasay City-based firm had been unregistered with the BIR and failed to pay franchise tax worth over P100 million.
The BIR was able to close down Synchronization Anywhere For You even as the raid supposed to be conducted Friday morninghit a snag when its operatives were told that they had been given the “wrong” address by the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), which grants licenses to Pogos.
Synchronization Anywhere For You was the very first Pogo licensee shut down for alleged tax evasion—the first three temporarily closed down by the BIR were Pogo service providers that employ foreign—mostly Chinese—workers.
Pogo licensees tap service providers to be the ones that actually communicate with their clients—online gamblers outside the Philippines, mostly in China.
At present, about 60 Pogos had been issued licenses to operate by Pagcor.
Deputy Revenue Commissioner Arnel Guballa told the Inquirer that while the building administrator earlier denied that Synchronization Anywhere For You’s office was located there and pointed to another building, they later on “admitted” that the address was correct.
Guballa said BIR officials pushed through with shutting down the Pogo, which owed more than P100 million in 5-percent franchise tax of the firm’s gross gaming revenues.
Guballa explained that most of the Pagcor-licensed Pogos had been registered as having offshore operations, and only a few were actually located in the Philippines.
“The difficulty is they have virtual offices,” Guballa said.
In the case of Synchronization Anywhere For You, the BIR asked Pagcor to provide them its address as it was supposedly registered as a local Pogo.
After the Pogo task force going after tax-evading licensees and service providers was formed last year, Pagcor then required entrants to first register with the BIR.
In the case of Synchronization Anywhere For You, Guballa said it seemed to be one of the first few licensees that set up shop here before the government intensified its campaign against tax-dodging Pogos.
Edited by TSB
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