Interagency database of foreign workers to be set up

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The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is now working with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in developing an interagency database of foreign nationals working in the country to effectively monitor them and ensure that they pay the correct amount of taxes to the government.

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay said revisions were made to a draft joint memorandum circular (MC) being crafted with the DOLE on the issuance of work permits to foreigners to include a provision on setting up the database.

“To effectively pursue our mandate (of taxing foreign workers), we need accurate data on foreigners working in the Philippines,” Dulay said during a recent Department of Finance (DOF) Executive Committee (Execom) meeting.

Dulay told Dominguez during the Execom meeting that the DOLE had invited the BIR to a meeting to discuss the joint MC on the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals.

“Revisions were made to develop an inter-agency database to be administered by the DOLE,” Dulay said.

Dulay also reported that several of the 15,176 foreign nationals working in 174 establishments, mostly Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), that the DOLE said had no working permits were subsequently determined by the BIR to have the proper working permits and visas. “DOLE was informed of these findings,” Dulay said.

The BIR, Dulay said, has also sent out 29 letter-notices to several POGO service providers telling them to remit the taxes due them as withholding agents in the amount of P4.44 billion.

During the last meeting called by Dominguez with members of the interagency task force created to monitor and list down the number of foreign nationals working in the country, he said the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) need to step up their efforts and come up with creative solutions in tracking the entry and employment of foreign nationals in the country.

This is necessary, he said, to accomplish the goal of coming up with an accurate database of taxable aliens in the Philippines.

Dominguez also said that while the government is currently focusing on POGOs, the BIR’s mission to ensure that taxes are properly collected cover all foreign nationals working in the Philippines.