THE GOVERNMENT has made an example of the first Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) it says has been evading taxes, shutting its offices down on Wednesday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said in a press release on Wednesday.

The BIR Task Force POGO closed down the Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp.’s (GEGAC) offices in Subic Freeport in Central Luzon, in Quezon City and in Aseana City in Parañaque City after finding out that the company was not registered for VAT. “The BIR, through the Task Force POGO, enforced a closure and shutdown of the operations of a POGO service provider for violating Section 115(b), in relation to Section 236 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended,” statement read.

BIR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnel SD. Guballa issued the closure order after Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III gave the order earlier this month to shutter tax-evading POGOs.

“POGO service provider Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp (GEGAC) is being shut down for lack of registration for VAT purposes…” Mr. Dominguez told reporters via a text.

“(Number) of foreign employees in their Eastwood location is around 8,100, with a few hundred more in Parañaque & Subic.”

The government is also pressing POGOs to remit income tax withheld especially from foreign workers. Mr. Guballa said that from January to August, the government collected P1.4 billion in withholding taxes from POGOs, more than double the P579 million last year and the P175 million in 2017. The Finance department had estimated that the government loses P24 billion annually in foregone personal income taxes for every 100,000 unregistered POGO workers. — BML