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BIR to Pogo firms: Pay P4.4-B unpaid taxes of Chinese workers

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Friday ordered Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo) to pay the P3.4 billion in income taxes that their foreign employees, mostly Chinese, owed the government.

The foreign employees were earlier found to be unregistered and illegally working in the country, said BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay, who issued notices two weeks ago for the collection of about P1 billion in taxes from an initial batch of Pogo companies.

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The notice noted how “the BIR matched the list of foreigners hired by local companies with the records provided by government agencies [and found] big discrepancies [between] the number of foreigners employed and those that [the companies had] reported to the BIR.”

Employers who remain unresponsive “will be subjected to a formal investigation, and incremental penalties imposed [on them],” the BIR said.

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To ensure that the income taxes of all foreign Pogo workers are collected, the BIR, Bureau of Immigration, Department of Justice and Department of Labor and Employment came up with joint guidelines requiring aliens to secure a tax identification number before they can get their working permits

The Department of Finance this week said the government would go after an initial 12,000 illegal foreign workers, mostly in the Pogo sector, who have not been paying income taxes, and collect some P32 billion from them.

The figure was based on Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III’s assumption that about 138,000 foreign workers earned an average of $1,500 per month and should have paid the 25-percent personal income tax. —BEN O. DE VERA

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