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POGO workers’ rush to register for TIN overwhelms BIR facilities

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BIR 041218 - POGO workers’ rush to register for TIN overwhelms BIR facilities

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it cannot handle the current level of bulk applications for Tax Identification Numbers (TINs), with many foreign workers rushing to apply after the government required them to obtain a tax registration prior to working in the Philippines for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

The BIR is capable of issuing TINs at a much slower rate because the system is not equipped to handle bulk transactions, Finance Undersecretary Antonette C. Tionko told reporters Tuesday night.

“There are also limitations on situations where sabay-sabay silang mag-apply (they all apply at the same time),” in which case speed is the issue, Ms. Tionko said.

She added that new applications take longer to process because they have to “carefully” enter “confusing” foreign names and other personal information such as date of birth and gender to ensure correct details.

The government requires foreign nationals and non-residents planning to work in the Philippines to obtain a TIN before securing a work permit.

“It’s not slow, it’s just that there is so much to process. They are also being careful because the names are confusing,” she said.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said BIR offices are not yet ready for bulk transactions amid complaints from foreign workers trying to apply for TINs.

“They [are] complaining because our system is not set up to register 100,000 [applications] a week… Then all of a sudden you have 100,000 (complaints). It’s not our fault, you didn’t register. We can’t have a system that’s for registering a 100,000 a week,” he added.

“They do it all in one office. How can you possibly expect this office that is not set up to do it,” Mr. Dominguez said.

Mr. Dominguez did not give an estimate for the number of foreign POGO workers but said most of them are unregistered.

The DoF estimates that the government foregoes about P2 billion a month in withholding tax unremitted to the BIR for every 100,000 unregistered foreign workers. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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