Influx of Chinese Online Casino Workers Overwhelm Philippine Tax Office
The Philippines is complaining about an invasion of Chinese workers who flooding the country to take advantage of job offers. Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) are bringing Chinese workers in by the boatload in order to properly service the Chinese online gaming market. According to records, there are 56 licensed POGOs operating in the country and they employ up to 250,000 Chinese nationals. This does not include the estimated 30 unlicensed operators who are also bringing in Chinese workers.
This has caused problems for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Workers need a tax identification number (TIN) to work in the Philippines and the BIR is being overwhelmed by the demand. This is why the country’s Department of Finance (DOF) is asking POGOs to withhold taxes from their employees, despite not having and TINs issued to them yet.
Gambling in all forms is banned in Mainland China but that is not stopping offshore operators in the Philippines from setting up shop, bringing in Chinese employees and then targeting the Chinese online gambling market.
According to an interview with Finance Undersecretary Antonette C. Tionko, the BIR has only issued issued 10,000 TINs. This was to POGO workers that were formerly not registered in the cities of Pasay, Parañaque, and Metro Manila. This was a tough task for the agency as they were not able to cope with the number of workers and they are now swamped with work as they have to accommodate the remaining 130,000 unregistered POGO workers who still have no TINs.
The main obstacle to quick issuance of TINs by the bureau is because they needed to confirm that the workers’ personal information on registration forms was correct. Additionally, the fact that some Chinese names were similar or sounded alike was becoming a barrier to quick registration.
Income Tax Payments
However, despite the delays, the BIR assured that all unregistered POGO worker would be able to get their TIN as soon as possible. BIR officials note that POGOs already withhold the 25 percent income tax from their employees. They are in need of the TINs so that the BIR can properly record their taxes.
As soon as POGO workers receive their TINs, their employers are legally required to remit their taxes to the Philippine government. If they do not, the BIR warns that the companies might be slapped with a 50 percent penalty for committing a criminal offense. The BIR expects to collect two billion pesos in taxes every month from POGOs.