By Rea Cu, July 4 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) are working on developing an interagency database of foreign nationals working in the country, to ensure they pay the correct amount of taxes to the Philippine government.

This, as the BIR will start collecting income taxes from foreign workers employed in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogos) this month.

BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay reported to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III at a recent executive committee (Execom) meeting that revisions were made to a draft joint memorandum circular (MC) being crafted with the DOLE on the issuance of work permits to foreigners, to include a provision on setting up the database.

“To effectively pursue our mandate [of taxing foreign workers], we need accurate data on foreigners working in the Philippines,” Dulay said.

He explained that the DOLE had invited the BIR to a meeting to discuss the joint MC on the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals.

“Revisions were made to develop an interagency database to be administered by the DOLE,” he added.

Dulay also pointed out that some of the 15,176 foreign nationals working in 174 establishments, mostly (Pogos), that the DOLE said had no working permits, were subsequently determined by the BIR to have the proper working permits and visas.

Dominguez said the monitoring of foreign nationals working in the country is necessary, to be able to come up with an accurate database of taxable aliens in the Philippines.

The finance chief also emphasized that while the government is currently focusing on Pogos, the BIR’s mission to ensure that taxes are properly collected covers all foreign nationals working in the Philippines.

Dominguez, who has been leading the campaign to collect income taxes from foreign nationals working in the country, said the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), DOLE and law enforcement agencies, such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should get their act together to weed out illegal aliens working in the country.

On Monday, the DOF said that the BIR will start collecting taxes from foreign nationals who are working in the Pogo sector this month, pointing out that the government is only enforcing the law in terms of tax collection.

At the sidelines of the pre-State of the Nation Address (Sona) Economic and Infrastructure Forum on Monday at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Dominguez quoted the BIR as reporting that it will start collecting income taxes from foreign workers employed in Pogos this month.

In a meeting in May with members of the interagency task force created to monitor and list down the number of foreign nationals working in the country, Dominguez learned that out of 148 establishments employing 37,000 workers that were inspected so far, nearly one third or 12,000 foreign nationals in 33 Pogos lacked the necessary permits from the BI and the DOLE.

“I estimated…the revenues should be at least P2 billion a month. Roughly P2 billion a month,” Dominguez said.

The amount of taxes to be collected from the Pogo sector will thus amount to P24 billion a year, at P2 billion a month of income tax collections. The tax collection is a revenue source that was nonexistent some four of five years ago, until President Duterte gave Pagcor control over Pogos.

Last month, Pagcor admonished Pogos to strictly comply with the country’s laws and regulations, and pay proper taxes due the government, with a warning that operations of noncompliant Pogos will be seized.

The state-run agency said concerned tax agencies are closely monitoring the Pogo sector and how they do business in the country.