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Villanueva to BIR: Go after POGOs instead of online entrepreneurs

VILLANUEVA (FB photo)
VILLANUEVA (FB photo)
VILLANUEVA (FB photo)

By VANNE ELAINE P. TERRAZOLA

Sen. Joel Villanueva hit the Bureau of Internal Revenue yesterday for ordering online entrepreneurs to register and settle their taxes, saying the State tax regulator should focus on going after Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators who have been refusing to pay their obligations.

Villanueva decried the BIR’s issuance of a memorandum circular telling all persons that are doing business and earning income from digital platforms to follow the Tax Code and register not later than July 31.

They were also directed to declare their past transactions and pay their taxes. Late registration and payment shall be slapped with penalties under the existing laws and regulations.

“Pasalamat po tayo at likas na ma-diskarte ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi na nga po natin nabigyan ng tulong ang karamihan, bubuwisan pa natin ‘yung mga nais maghanapbuhay ng marangal,” Villanueva said in a statement.

In a tweet, he also lamented: “Hindi naman milyon milyon ang kinikita ng maliliit na online sellers. #PusoNaman.”

“Dapat tutukan ng BIR ang POGO na may utang na P50 billion na tax last year pa. Ngayong COVID-19, pwede bang kapakanan ng mga kababayang Pilipino muna natin ang manguna?” he added.

Villanueva said that while he understands the need for government revenues, the mass layoffs and spike in unemployment highlighted the need for alternative means of livelihood.

“Alam po natin na kailangan ng ating gobyerno na kumulekta ng buwis. Unahin po natin yung mga napatunayan nang atrasado sa pagbabayad ng buwis,” he said.

Villanueva said the government’s call for POGO firms to pay their unpaid taxes “has fallen on deaf ears.”

Online gambling businesses were earlier required by the BIR to settle first their tax obligations before they are allowed to resume operations. But two weeks after the memo’s release, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa was reported as saying that no POGO firms or their service providers have complied with the order.

Despite this, some POGO operations were found illegally operating during the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.

“Ang dami nang pagkakataon ang ibinibigay ng gobyerno sa mga POGO para ituwid ang kanilang operasyon. Malinaw po na winawaldas lang nila itong pagkakataon,” Villanueva said.

“Ganitong pagkakataon po dapat ang ibinibigay rin natin sa mga mamamayan natin, lalo na sa mga online sellers na nakikipagsapalaran ngayon,” he said.

Meanwhile, Villanueva also urged the BIR to intensify its information campaign to encourage micro, small, and medium enterprises to register with them, the benefits of doing so, and the taxes applicable to them.

Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, a sole proprietorship earning P250,000 or less is not subject to tax.

 

 

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