Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri proposed to tax “heavily” Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) rather than small-time online sellers.

Zubiri proposed the idea after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) required online sellers to register their small-time online merchants for tax compliance adding that the BIR’s move is “not only insensitive but totally unnecessary.”

“First of all, many of these online sellers are trying to survive during this time of a Pandemic and to harass them on their last means of income is heartless to say the least,” he said.

Zubiri guaranteed that the Senate will not support those who will impose tax measures on online sellers.

“Instead, [I] propose we tax heavily the POGO industry that’s growing within our country like a virus. Let’s slap a heavy excise or Franchise tax on top of the income tax charged to them,” he stated.

“Why make our small enterprising and entrepreneurial Pinoys suffer from the threat of taxation and allow foreign Pogo operators to operate while evading or under paying their taxes?” he added.

Under the Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 60-2020, dated June 1, the BIR advised “all persons doing business and earning income in any manner or form, specifically those who are into digital transactions through the use of any electronic platforms and media, and other digital means, to ensure that their businesses are registered pursuant to the provisions of Section 236 of the Tax Code, as amended, and that they are tax compliant.”

The memorandum is not only for partner sellers or merchants but also covers other stakeholders such as payment gateways, delivery channels, internet service providers, and other facilitators.

The BIR wants these small businesses to declare their previous transactions for taxation purposes.

Those who will successfully register their business activity and/or update their registration status on or before July 31, 2020 “shall not be imposed with penalty for late registration,” BIR added.

“We understand that our government needs revenue but we must focus on what’s important, on which industry needs government support to survive as well as which industry could share the burden,” Zubiri said.

“Definitely taxing small online businesses is not the answer,” he added. (RJ Espartinez)