DESPITE the decision to cease operations in the country, a Philippine offshore gambling operator (POGO) is not yet out of the woods as the government has promised it will still pursue taxes.
Citing information from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Monday that SC World Development Group Ltd. – a unit of Macau gaming giant SunCity Group – is an offshore licensee and not registered with the BIR. .
SC World Development Group Ltd. is one of two POGOs identified by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) who have officially requested the cancellation of their offshore gaming licenses, according to reports.
“We still intend to go and collect his taxes,” Dominguez said, quoting the BIR.
Besides SC World Development Group Ltd., another POGO that has reportedly left the country is Don Tencess Asian Solutions Inc.
According to information from the BIR relayed by Dominguez to journalists, Don Tencess Asian Services Solutions Inc. is a “local licensee and already pays a franchise tax, and will be investigated before being authorized to close by the BIR “.
Besides these two POGOs, 13 other service providers have also reportedly shut down and more will likely follow due to the BIR’s strict tax rules and the impact of movement restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Pagcor .
The government authorized the partial resumption of POGO operations in May in an attempt to raise revenue while several
parts of the country remain stranded in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19, but POGOs that have been found to be non-compliant with taxation have been banned from resuming operations.
POGOs, however, insist that they are not required to pay the 5% franchise tax because they are an offshore business.
Last week, Senator Joel Villanueva said that only two POGOs have so far paid the franchise tax.
Responding to Villanueva’s claims, Dominguez said they were investigating the matter, but described the allegation as “probably true”.
While the Ministry of Finance said government revenue from POGOs is expected to reach 20 billion pesos per year, the industry’s total tax revenue was only 6.42 billion pesos in 2019. This despite the government’s intensified crackdown on fraudulent POGOs. .