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House passes POGO tax bill on 3rd reading

THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a measure taxing foreigners involved in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

In plenary session Monday, the House voted 198-13 with two abstentions on House Bill 5777, which seeks to amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

If enacted, the bill will add foreign nationals employed by POGOs to Section 25 of the National Internal Revenue Code which lists the types of nonresident foreign individuals subject to tax.

“An alien individual regardless of residency and who is employed and assigned in the Philippines… by an offshore gaming licensee or its service provider… shall pay a final withholding tax of twenty-five percent (25%) on their gross income,” according to the bill.

The bill was sponsored by the House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda. Last month, Mr. Salceda estimated that the measure, which also adjusts the excise tax on the industry, will generate additional revenue of nearly P150 billion if it becomes law.

The bill calls for a 5% excise tax on gross gaming revenue or receipts from POGOs’ gaming operations and other related activities.

Explaining his negative vote, Minority Leader Joseph Stephen S. Paduano said the bill included provisions that were not debated during past plenary sessions.

Mr. Paduano added, “Further, Special Economic Zones with their own Charter like Aurora, Zamboanga and Cagayan already have a Tax Provision in their Charters. They should have been excluded from the coverage of this proposed revenue measure.” — Gillian M. Cortez

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