Philippines seeks to squeeze more tax from POGOs

Philippines Bureau of internal Revenue

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an economic recovery package into law that will seek to more than double the amount of revenue the government gets from Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs).

Known as Bayanihan 2, the law is eyeing P17.5 billion ($360.7 million) in revenue from POGOs this year, compared with the P7 billion that was collected in 2019, local media cited Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon as saying.

The law imposes a 5 percent franchise tax on the higher of either gross bets, or the pre-determined minimum monthly revenues from gaming operations.

Drilon said the franchise tax will be computed on the peso equivalent of the foreign currency used, based on the prevailing official exchange rate at the time of payment, to prevent POGOs from under-declaring their income.

If they fail to pay their taxes, they will be shut down.

“All revenues from POGO will be used to fund the various types of assistance laid out in the Bayanihan 2 for all sectors affected by the pandemic,” Drilon said.

The rising cost of doing business in the Philippines for POGO operators, together with a negative backlash from the public, is forcing many firms to reconsider their location. Some have already left following Bureau of Internal Revenue demands for payment.