BIR collected P7.18B from POGOs in 2020

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    The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has collected P7.18 billion in taxes from the Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) industry in 2020 despite the firms’ limited operations for most of last year, since quarantine measures were implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The BIR said in a statement yesterday collections from POGOs rose by around 11.71 percent, from the P6.43 billion recorded in 2019.

    However, the increase was slower versus the 172.43 percent hike in collections in 2019, from the P2.36 billion collected in 2018.

    Andrea Domingo, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chairperson, said in early December there were about 35 operators with about 138 service providers that have restarted their business after the easing of stricter quarantine measures.

    “I think it’s getting better. For example, even if they’ve been closed for almost seven, eight months, when we opened up in September it was kind of slow but in October and November it was really good so that we were able, actually, to meet all of our revised targets,” Domingo said in a virtual interview with Asia Gaming Brief last December 9.

    Th BIR earlier reported that it was able to collect a total of P1.94 trillion in 2020, surpassing its revised goal of P1.69 trillion by 15.14 percent.

    “It’s the first time that BIR went above its goal by 15 percent. The last time the BIR hit its goal was in 2001 and 2003, that was 17 years ago,” Caesar Dulay, BIR commissioner, said in the statement.

    However, the government revised its collection targets last year as the lockdown measures resulted in limited economic activity, which in turn led to lower revenues for the government.

    BIR revenues were about 11.23 percent less than the actual collection of P2.19 trillion in 2019.

    Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance secretary, said the decrease in BIR collections in 2020 compared to the previous year was understandable, considering the adverse economic impact of the pandemic and the contraction of the gross domestic product by about 10 percent that year.

    The BIR said its collection performance was made possible through the strict implementation of taxpayer account management program, monitoring of withholding tax remittances, and continued tax awareness activities, which revenue offices nationwide have been able to sustain even during the most restricted quarantine period through the use of phones, emails, virtual meetings and other electronic platforms.

    Other tax enforcement initiatives that significantly contributed to the bureau’s overall collections are the issuance of Warrants of Distraint and Levy, and Warrants of Garnishments, and implementation of compromise settlement that caused the collection of accounts receivable/delinquent accounts totaling to P998.96 million, the BIR said.

    The agency said vigorous implementation of the Run After Tax Evaders Program and Oplan Kandado Program resulted in the filing of 157 cases with the Department of Justice with aggregate tax liabilities of P7.447 billion, filing of 24 cases at the Court of Tax Appeals with total estimated liabilities of P753.75 million; and closure of 209 establishments nationwide, and collection of P607.87 million.

    Moreover, the bureau was able to seize 55 units of cigarette-making machines, 4,890,124 packs of assorted cigarette products, and 22,389,022 counterfeit tax stamps valued at P1.228 billion. (A. Celis)