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Philippines wants new 5% tax on POGOs

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has pledged his support to proposed legislation which would impose a 5 per cent franchise tax on revenue generated by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and their service providers.

The bill filed in the Philippines House of Representatives by Representative Joey Salceda also sets out a $10,000 monthly tax on table games, and a $5,000 monthly fee levied on random number generator (RNG) based games such as slot machines. It would also set out a $1,000 presumptive tax on income, rather than an assessment based on actual earnings.

At the moment, payment rates are significantly lower. POGOs currently pay a $100 levy on RNG games, and $40,000 a month for sports betting activities.

The country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has 218 POGOs on its books, which are employing 108,914 foreign workers. The Philippines authorities have recently stepped up efforts to ensure all are paying taxes this year, shuttering those that fail to do so.

Between January and August 2019, BIR has collected PHP1.63bn (£24.9m/€28.7m/$31.9m) in withholding taxes, a significant increase on previous years. In 2017 these businesses paid just PHP175m, and PHP579m in 2018.

Plans to implement new tax has come after the issuance of new POGO licences was halted until the end of 2019, amid concerns related to illegal activity by operators, and allowing for a review of existing contracts. However, despite pressure from China, the Philippines has refused to ban online gaming outright, citing the economic benefits it brings to the country.

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