MANILA — The Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) are working closely with other government agencies, including the justice and labor departments, to ensure that foreign nationals working in Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) comply with the country’s tax laws, particularly in the payment of income taxes.
Under Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 78-2018, all foreign and Philippine-based gaming operators, including those with offshore licenses, are now required to register with the BIR as a prerequisite in the renewal of their Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) licenses. This mandates the BIR to identify and monitor tax payments including remittances of taxes withheld on foreign nationals working for them.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement on Sunday that the list of foreign nationals working for service providers of POGO operators should be consolidated and reconciled by the various agencies and offices involved in screening, providing work permits and registering them here in the country.
These agencies include the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which screens and issues visas to foreign nationals entering the country; the Department of Justice (DOJ), which oversees the Bureau of Immigration (BI) that, in turn, grants short-term special work permits (SWPs) to foreigners; the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which issues alien employment permits (AEPs); PAGCOR, which has a list of its licensed POGO operators; Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which oversees the country’s special economic zones (SEZs) where a few of these POGOs operate; and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which registers POGO agents.
“If we get all that (information), then it is possible that we can begin to collect taxes, enforcing the law on these foreign workers who are operating here. Isn’t that what we really want to do here, enforce the law?” Dominguez said during a recent meeting he requested with the respective heads of these agencies to find ways of making foreign POGO workers’ pay income taxes to the BIR.
Dominguez said “a good starting point” would be to trace the employers of these foreign workers so that a portion of their salaries could be withheld and turned over to the government as partial payment of their income taxes.
Besides ensuring that foreign nationals comply with tax laws, Dominguez also said it is imperative for the government to find out who and where all these alien workers are, given the national security implications of their large presence in the country.