Taxes from POGOs soar 169% to P6.4 billion in 2019

Ralf Rivas
Taxes from POGOs soar 169% to P6.4 billion in 2019


The Philippine government improves in getting cash from tax-dodging online gambling operators, but it still falls short of its target

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government’s crackdown against tax-dodging Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) yielded to more revenues, as it was able to collect P6.4 billion in taxes in 2019, 169% higher than the P2.4 billion collected in 2018. But billions more need to be collected.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collected P5.1 billion in withholding taxes, P644.1 million in income taxes, P91.1 million in value-added taxes and percentage taxes, P81.1 million in documentary stamp taxes, and P469.1 million in other taxes from POGOs. (READ: Online gambling: Good for whose business?)

Despite the surge in collections, there is much more to collect from the industry that has raked in mounds of cash that may be equivalent to a full percentage point of the country’s gross domestic product.

BIR has issued some 170 notices to collect a total of P27.4 billion in tax liabilities from errant POGOs. The bureau aimed to collect P2 billion from these companies a month.

The interagency task force responsible for chasing after foreign nationals not paying the right taxes was able to temporarily shut down several POGOs last year. These companies opened shop just days after committing to pay the right taxes.

While tax collection has improved, the Philippine government needs to catch up on the industry that has exponentially grown despite China’s disapproval. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Duterte and the POGO dilemma)

For one, the government’s basic data on the industry are not aligned. BIR estimates around 103,000 foreign workers in the POGO industry, yet the Department of Labor and Employment counted only over 86,000. Meanwhile, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, the agency which grants licenses to POGOS, said that there are over 93,000 workers.

Industry sources said POGO workers go as high as 400,000.

Security concerns have also grown, as kidnapping incidents and other crimes in the capital has been more rampant due to the rise of the industry.


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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.