A PROPOSED law seeking to tax Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) will be transmitted directly to the Palace after the House adopted the Senate version of the measure, doing away with the need for a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two chambers’ bills, a senior legislator said.

House Ways and Means Chairman Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda said Tuesday via Viber that House leaders agreed to adopt the Senate’s version and work towards forwarding the bill to the President for signature after Congress opened its third session Monday.

The measure, which was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, seeks to impose a 5% tax on gross gaming receipts for offshore gaming licensees (OGLs) and a 25% tax on gross income for nonresident aliens working for POGO service providers. 

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters he does not support a provision that grants zero rating on Value-Added Tax for OGLs on services rendered by service providers as that arrangement would “tend to place POGOs on a better footing than certain export-oriented companies in the country.”

Mr. Salceda said that Mr. Dominguez “can recommend a line-item veto” to the President for that particular provision.

The Senate bill seeks to impose a minimum monthly tax of P12,500 instead of taxes to be remitted on a quarterly basis or in advance, but with a refund mechanism in place in case of excess taxes, which was the provision in the House version. It also requires every alien employee to have a Tax Identification Number (TIN), imposing a P20,000 fine for each worker without a TIN.

The measure also bars the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport from issuing new POGO licenses, and instead transfers regulation to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. It also sets a 5% uniform tax rate for POGOs registered with other special economic zones instead of the current tax rate or 5% of gross gaming revenues.

Mr. Salceda said Friday that the bill, when passed, will raise P13.4 billion in its first year, and P176.9 billion over five years. — Russell Louis C. Ku