BUSINESS PROCESS OUTSOURCING firms can continue work-from-home (WFH) arrangements and receive fiscal incentives if their registration is transferred to the Board of Investments (BoI), Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said on Thursday.

“The FIRB (Fiscal Incentives Review Board) met (on Wednesday) and we decided there will be a smooth transfer of benefits from the PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) to BoI, and so that problem is solved,” he said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday.

“[They have] tax incentives [and] they can opt to do work from home,” he added.

There are about 2,000 Information Technology and Business Processing Management (IT-BPM) firms registered with PEZA that may transfer to BoI.

Finance Undersecretary and FIRB Technical Committee Chairperson Antonette C. Tionko said the FIRB had agreed that IT-BPM enterprises can continue their 30% WFH arrangement until end-December, because the state of calamity has been extended.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. extended the nationwide state of calamity to Dec. 31 from Sept. 13, 2022.

“During the interim between now and December, the BPO companies that are registered with PEZA will be allowed to transfer their registration to BoI. Even if they transfer to BoI, they will be enjoying the same incentives they’ve been enjoying under the CREATE (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises) Act,” she said.

Under Republic Act No. 11534 or CREATE, registered business enterprises, including IT-BPM firms, must conduct their businesses within economic zones (ecozones) in order to avail themselves of fiscal incentives.

“The incentives right now under CREATE between BoI and PEZA are already basically the same,” Ms. Tionko said, noting that new firms can simply opt to register with BoI to avoid jurisdictional requirements with PEZA.

She also said there is no need for IT-BPM firms to leave the PEZA economic zones.

On Sept. 9, the FIRB indefinitely extended the WFH arrangement for IT-BPM enterprises in PEZA economic zones.

FIRB Resolution No. 017-22, which expired on Sept. 12, allowed IT-BPM firms to have WFH arrangements for 30% of their workforce, while still enjoying fiscal incentives guaranteed by the CREATE Act.

The FIRB Resolution is bound to CREATE’s implementing rules, which require the extension of the state of calamity or a declaration by the president of an exceptional circumstance. — D.G.C. Robles