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New POGO tax law a “major win” for the Philippines

The new law to impose additional taxes on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) is a “major win” for the country, according to the Ways and Means Committee Chief in the Senate.

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Sen. Pia Cayetano said the measure - signed into law last week by President Rodrigo Duterte - will generate billions in additional funds for public services, without burdening Filipino taxpayers.

Cayetano stands as principal sponsor of the POGO Tax Law, which imposes a 5% tax on the gross gaming revenue of online gaming operators. Foreigners employed in online casinos and their service providers meanwhile are required to pay 25% income tax.

“For years, many of these POGOs have been operating without paying the proper taxes. By virtue of this law that I sponsored and defended, they will now be taxed,” said Cayetano.

“POGOs are offshore gaming operators, which means only foreigners abroad may gamble in POGOs. So the taxes do not come from Filipinos, or even foreigners residing in the country.”

Cayetano noted that based on Department of Finance estimates, the new law is projected to generate P32.1bn ($600m) in 2022; P22.9bn through the 5% gaming tax, and P9.2bn from the 25% tax on foreign POGO employees.

Under the law, 60% of total revenues from gaming tax imposed on offshore gaming companies will be earmarked for the government, and allocated to health programmes that have suffered due to the ongoing pandemic.

“I’d rather tax the POGOs than see a proliferation of gambling in the country, which sadly seems to be the direction that our colleagues in the House are taking with the recent passage of a bill allowing online gambling,” Cayetano added.

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