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BIR padlocks another POGO for evading taxes

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Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
BW FILE PHOTO

ANOTHER Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) service provider has been padlocked amid the government’s crackdown on the sector.

The task force led by the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) found that Altech Innovations Business Outsourcing was not registered for value-added tax (VAT) purposes, with unpaid taxes worth an estimated P100 million.

On Thursday, the Task Force POGO supervised by Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Deputy Commissioner for Operations Group Arnel SD. Guballa and Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II went to the POGO service provider’s head office in Aseana City, Parañaque City and another branch in the Double Dragon Building located in Pasay City.

“The violation of this is that they are not registered sa (with the) BIR as VAT-registered taxpayer,” Mr. Guballa told the media after they closed the head office of Altech in Aseana City on Thursday.

The official said the BIR does not have the exact amount of Altech’s tax deficiency yet, although they have estimates.

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“Estimates pa lang kasi (because) we will wait for their documents to be presented to us. Siguro mga nasa (Our) estimate namin, it will run to hundreds of millions. A hundred million. Wala pang (No) exact figure,” Mr. Guballa said.

He added that the tax bureau is still verifying whether the company is registered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

“Sa BIR, we focus on our agency, kung anong violation nila sa Tax Code (and their violations of the Tax Code),” Mr. Guballa said.

The official also noted that authorities now have to deal with POGOs operating in the guise of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies.

“It’s difficult to distinguish ’yung mga BPO natin na parang call centers kasi ganoon din naman ’yung scheme or methodology on how to do the online gaming (because they operate in the same scheme or methodology online gaming firms do)…And sa intel[ligence] report nalaman namin ngayon ‘yung mga nago-operate na hindi nakarehistro as service providers ng online gaming (we found that those operating are not registered as service providers of online gaming),” he said.

Mr. Guballa, however, clarified that padlocked POGO operators can go back to business once they rectify their violations.

“We will lift the closure order provided they comply with the conditions given by the BIR para makapag-operate uli sila (so they can operate again),” he told reporters.

Two weeks ago, the task force also shuttered Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp.’s offices in Subic Freeport, in Quezon City, and in Aseana City in Parañaque City after its findings revealed the company was not registered for VAT.

“We are expecting an increase of voluntary compliance kasi nga (because) of the enforcement activity that we are doing. And we want to tell them, these service providers that in the Philippines, they should comply with our tax laws para walang problema (so there will be no problem),” Mr. Guballa said. — L.W.T. Noble

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