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POGOs, service providers should’ve paid taxes before reopening –BIR


Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and its service providers should have settled their tax dues before resuming business activities during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

The BIR had issued a set of guidelines and requirements for all POGO licensees or operators.

First, they should show proof that they had paid their 2019 franchise taxes, their withholding taxes due for the months of January to April this year, as well as the first quarter payments of their 2020 franchise tax, “before they would be given tax clearances allowing them to resume operations.”

Likewise, POGO service providers were similarly required to submit proof that they had paid their 2019 income taxes; and remitted and paid withholding taxes for the months of January to April this year, including the 25% final withholding tax due from their foreign employees, “before the BIR would give them tax clearances to reopen for business.”

On May 1, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo announced that the government had allowed the partial reopening of POGOs amid the ECQ, provided that only 30% of the total workforce would be allowed to report for work and that these workers would follow precautionary measures.

“Tax compliant POGO service providers would not be issued tax clearances by the BIR should their POGO operators or licensees fail to comply with the bureau's new requirements,” the BIR said.

All POGO licensees, operators, and service providers should also submit a notarized undertaking affirming their commitment to pay all tax arrears for prior years of their operations and should be registered with the respective Revenue District Office (RDOs) having jurisdiction over their places of business, according to the taxman.

“Failure to comply with any of the (requirements) will result in the denial of the issuance of a BIR Clearance for the resumption of operations,” read the Guidelines & Requirements issued by the BIR’s POGO Task Force headed by Revenue Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa.

The Guidelines & Requirements issued on May 6 also stated that “the application of a Service Provider for the issuance of a BIR Clearance shall not be approved in case its POGO Licensee failed to comply with the BIR requirements for BIR Clearance.”

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier made it clear that no POGO operator or service provider would be allowed to operate again “unless they are compliant with all government laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, those involving health and taxation.”

  • For POGO licensees and operators, the BIR required the submission of the following documentary requirements:
  • Copy of Application for Registration of Corporations, et al. duly received by the concerned RDO (BIR Form No. 1903) or BIR Certificate of Registration (COR), if already registered
  • Copies of Franchise Tax Returns (BIR Form No. 2553) for the taxable quarters of 2019 and 1st quarter of 2020 together with proof of payments
  • Copies of Monthly Remittance Form for Income Taxes Withheld (BIR Form Nos. 1601C and 0619-E and F), Quarterly Remittance Return of Income Taxes Withheld (BIR Form 1601-EQ and FQ) or Payment Form (BIR Form No. 0605) for January to April 2020
  • Notarized Undertaking to pay all tax arrears for prior years.

For POGO service providers, the following would have to be submitted:

  • Copy of BIR Application for Registration duly received by the concerned RDO (BIR Form No. 1901 or 1903) or BIR Certificate of Registration (COR), if already registered
  • Copy of 2019 Income Tax Return or ITR (BIR Form No. 1701 or 1702) and proof of payments
  • Copies of Monthly Remittance Form for Income Taxes Withheld (BIR Form Nos. 1601C and 0619-E and F), Quarterly Remittance Return of Income Taxes Withheld (BIR Form 1601-EQ and FQ) or Payment Form (BIR Form No. 0605) for the months of January to April 2020
  • Notarized Undertaking to pay all tax arrears for prior years.

Aside from securing a clearance from the BIR, all POGOs, and their service providers must also strictly adhere to the government’s safety and health protocols such as limited operations per shift, shuttle services for employees, regular body temperature checks and disinfection within the workplace, social distancing, and wearing of masks, among other measures to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus. — DVM, GMA News

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