Altech agrees to pay tax liabilities

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Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III

PHILIPPINE OFFSHORE Gaming Operator (POGO) service provider Altech Innovations Business Outsourcing can now resume its operations after it settled an initial payment with the Bureau of the Internal Revenue (BIR) for its tax liabilities, the Department of Finance’s (DoF) top official said.

DoF Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, in a phone message to reporters, said Altech, which was padlocked by BIR last Oct. 17, paid on Monday P8.2 million out of the P45 million worth of tax liabilities it promised to settle within the year, which includes withholding taxes from its foreign workers that it failed to remit.

Mr. Dominguez added that the service provider promised to update its tax payments for the year.

BIR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnel SD. Guballa said the remaining P37 million will be settled in “two equal monthly installments” this year.

In a report to Mr. Dominguez, Mr. Guballa said the total collections were from 300–390 workers employed by Altech.

He said the data were from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Labor and Employment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Guballa said Altech operated its principal office in Aseana City, Parañaque City and branch office in the Double Dragon Building in Pasay City from January to September 2018. However, Altech said it only operated its branch office for three to four months last year.

“They allegedly started in branch office only 3–4 months of 2018. Reconciliation and substantiation of records are ongoing,” he said.

Altech was the second service provider padlocked by the BIR due to non-compliance with value-added tax purposes and failing to settle tax obligations.

Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp. was the first POGO closed by BIR. It has since continued its operations after it agreed to a P1.3-billion settlement, paying an initial amount of P250 million.

So far, the BIR collected P1.63 billion in withholding taxes from POGO firms and service providers in eight months to August, up from the P579 million collected in 2018 and P175 million in 2017.

Mr. Guballa earlier said the tax bureau’s collections are improving based on initial data amid their heightened crackdown on the industry.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dominguez said he will support the measure that will impose a five percent tax on revenues from POGO and service providers, saying it is a “good idea.”

However, he said that he has yet to get a copy of the bill since Albay 2nd District Rep. José María Clemente “Joey” S. Salceda, the author of the bill, is still drafting it.

Mr. Salceda earlier said the bill proposes a presumptive corporate income tax of $1,000 per seat on the POGO firms and service providers in addition to the 5% franchise tax, a gaming tax of $10,000 a month per table for a live set-up casino and a $5,000 a month gaming tax for random number generator-based games.

According to BIR’s Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 102-2017, “the entire gross gaming receipts/earnings or the agreed or pre-determined minimum monthly revenues/income from Gaming Operations under existing rules, whichever is higher, shall be subject to a Franchise Tax of five percent, in lieu of all kind of taxes, levies, fees or assessments of any kind, nature or description.” — BML