BIR collected P 7.18B from Pogo sector in 2020
Despite an exodus of Philippines offshore gaming operators (Pogo) due to taxation issues and a high number of COVID-19 infections here, taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) from the sector rose by more than a tenth to P7.18 billion last year.
In a statement on Tuesday, Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay said tax collection from Pogos increased by 11.71 percent from about P6.4 billion in 2019.
In 2018, the Pogo tax take amounted to only P2.36 billion, Dulay noted.
The latest data on the website of the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), which regulates the Pogo industry, showed that only 34 out of 52 registered Pogos were still in business as of Jan. 5, slashed by nearly half from about 60 operators in early 2020.
To recall, the BIR in May last year issued rules mandating Pogos and service providers to first pay their tax dues before they could resume operations alongside easing COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.
Some Pogos based outside the Philippines had contested the BIR requirement, specifically the 5-percent franchise tax that they claimed covered only operators located inside the country.
But the BIR pointed out that it was already slapping a franchise tax on all Pogos, whether here or abroad, since 2017.
As a result, several Pogos left the Philippines because they did not want to pay.
The number of accredited local gaming agents and service providers that resumed operations also dwindled to 131 this month from as many as 218 in early 2020.
At its peak prepandemic, the Pogo sector was employing about 130,000 to 150,000 people, of which around three-fourths were foreigners—mostly Chinese.
The BIR managed to jack up collections from Pogos last year despite a setback after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the 5-percent franchise tax on gross bets slapped on Pogos under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. —Ben O. de Vera INQ
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