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Ralph Recto Files Bill Imposes Tax on ‘E-Sabong’ or Online Cockfights

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has filed a bill that will impose tax on licensed online cockfights and derbies or ‘e-sabong’.

Recto files the Senate Bill No. 2045 that seeks to amend the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997 to include the imposition of 18-percent amusement tax on the licensed cockpits which holds derby fights on digital platform and offsite betting stations.

Online Cockfights

Based on the report of Inquirer, under the gross receipts of NIRC, cockpit operators are subjected to an 18-percent amusement tax. However, Recto said that a “legal question” is raised whether the country’s existing tax laws also cover the betting on cockfights online or “e-sabong.”

“A law will not be construed as imposing a tax unless it does so dearly and expressly. In case of doubt, tax laws must be construed strictly against the government and in favor of the taxpayer,” he said.

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Recto stressed that including the online cockfight betting under the NIRC aims to “remove any ambiguity or avoid the confusion whether or not this particular digital economic activity known as ‘e-sabong’ is taxable in our jurisdiction.”

According to him, the total revenues earned from the amusement tax of cockpits go to universal health care. 80 percent of the total revenues from amusement tax on cockpits will be allocated to the Philippe Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

Aside from that, the 20 percent will be allocated to the political and district-subdivisions, for medical assistance, the health facilities enhancement program, the annual requirements of which shall be determined by the Department of Health.

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