THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said that it has launched a campaign targeting unregistered foreign workers, prioritizing those employed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), in order to force them to pay income tax.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa told reporters in Quezon City Monday that an interagency task force including the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) is addressing the problem of untaxed foreign workers.

“DoLE will now require foreigners, before they are given work permits, to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the BIR,” he said.

He added that the BIR will go back as many years as necessary with its tax assessments of unregistered foreigners.

Last month, Senator Leila M. de Lima filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the alleged noncompliance of gaming firms, citing Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III’s claim that the government is losing an estimated P3 billion in tax revenue a month due to nonpayment of personal income tax by foreign POGO workers.

Mr. Guballa said that the BIR has estimated that 130,000 foreigners are working in the POGO industry, but added that the campaign will extend to all unregistered foreigners, including those in “economic zones like Clark and Subic, including mga consultants, engineers, designers, and IT workers,” Mr. Guballa said.

Mr. Guballa estimated the unregistered foreign non-POGO workers at 2,000.

Mr. Guballa said that BIR is still validating which of these foreigners are not paying taxes. The Bureau intends to complete the validation exercise by end of April.

Earlier, the Department of Finance (DoF) asked the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to require all POGOs to be registered with the BIR as a prerequisite for being issued a license to operate.

The DoF also wants PAGCOR, along with the Department of Justice (DoJ), DoLE, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to cooperate in compiling the database of foreign workers employed by POGOs. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio