Digital Economy Taxation Act of 2020: Who is affected and how?

House Bill 6765 or the Digital Economy Taxation Act of 2020 as proposed by Cong. Joey Salceda aims to collect tax on digital services in order to raise an estimated Php29 billion annual revenue for the government.

HB 6765 has the following provisions:

1) Require “network orchestrated” as withholding agents of income tax. Affected services include Angkas, Grab, FoodPanda, AirBnB, Lazada, Shopee, Zalora, UpWork and similar services that connect customers and suppliers.

Withholding tax is 5% for individuals (Grab, Angkas, AirBnB) if their annual income is less than Php3 Million. The withholding charge is 10% if personal revenue is more than Php3 M a year (most likely for AirBnB hosts earning more than Php250,000 a month).

This means that if a customer pays Php300 for their Grab ride, Grab Philippines is required to withhold 5% from the Grab Driver’s earning after Grab gets its 20% share.

So, for the Php300 ride fare, Php60 goes to Grab PH, Php12 is withheld by Grab to remit to BIR and Grab driver gets Php228. Grab PH will give the Grab driver a Form 2307 (Certificate of Creditable Tax Withheld at Source) for the total amount withheld that the Grab driver can use to file their Personal Income Tax come tax time.

For non-individuals, the withholding tax is 10% if the annual gross income is less than Php720,000 and 15% if more than Php720,000 a year. This will affect services like FoodPanda where they deal with food suppliers that are mostly registered as a corporation. Other services like Agoda, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Traveloka might also be required to withhold at source (unless the services do not collect payment upfront).

2) Services rendered electronically shall be charged a 12% VAT. This will affect internet services such as Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iWant, KBO, Disney+, Fox+, YouTube Premium, and the likes.

It’s also likely that digital downloads of apps and games will also be included so this will also affect the Apple iTunes Store, Google Play Store, Huawei AppGallery, Canva, Steam and in-game purchases like buying diamonds from Mobile Legends.

New monthly charges will look like this:

Spotify: Php129 -> Php145
Netflix: Php149 -> Php167

Likewise, digital advertising services like Google Ads and Facebook Ads are also subject to the 12% VAT.

Note: Internet-based companies and online service providers already registered in the Philippines are currently imposing 12% VAT. This includes merchants onboard marketplaces like Shopee, Lazada, Amazon, and Zalora.

Provisions #1 and #2 will harmonize the tax collection since Lazada/Shopee/Zalora will be required to withhold 5%/10%/15% from their merchants and the BIR can use this information to audit those merchants if they actually remit their 12% VAT as well as the compliance with their annual income tax returns.

3) The bill requires that digital service providers have a local agent or a representative office in the Philippines. This means Netflix and Spotify will have to have a physical office in the Philippines and be a registered entity with the SEC/BIR. This also helps protect consumers against unfair trade practices and faster customer service thru their respective local offices.

What House Bill 6765 is proposing isn’t unique to the Philippines. Other ASEAN countries already have this. Last January 2020, Malaysia started charging 6% digital tax and Singapore also charges 7% GST on foreign digital companies.

It’s still too early to say if the Digital Economy Taxation Act of 2020 will actually pass into law and when. It’s unlikely this will get anywhere in 2020 but since the Philippine government is desperately looking for other revenue sources during the time of pandemic, they might see this thru in 2021.

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Avatar for Abe Olandres

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He is one of the pioneers of blogging in the country and considered by many as the Father of Tech Blogging in the Philippines. He is also a technology consultant, a tech columnist with several national publications, resource speaker and mentor/advisor to several start-up companies.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar for nia maison nia maison says:

    for #1 how will we know what ewt rate to apply for individuals and corporations. Is it based on the expectations on the income?

    For non-individuals, the withholding tax is 10% if the annual gross income is less than Php720,000 and 15% if more than Php720,000 a year.

    Withholding tax is 5% for individuals if their annual income is less than Php3 Million. The withholding charge is 10% if personal revenue is more than Php3 M a year

  2. Avatar for Batang80s Batang80s says:

    Dapat taxable na ang pagtakbo sa kahit na anong posisyon sa gobyerno… depende sa bilang ng mga botante sa lugar…

    Halimbawa dyan sa 2nd district ng Albay.. nasa 450,000 ang populasyon… let’s say 200,000 ang botante… sa piso bawat botante, 200,000 ang dapat bayaran ng kandidato sa gobyerno… manalo o matalo… kaya kung 3 ang kandidato dyan, may 600,000 ang 2nd district ng Albay na diretsong pupunta sa D S W D ng distrito.

    Kung sa national… ganun din… kung 17M ang botante sa buong pilipinas… isang kandidato sa pagka-pangulo magbabayad ng 17M sa gobyerno na diretso din sa D S W D. Kung 5 ang kandidato tulad nung 2016… may 85M tayo.

    PERO may catch dyan.. applicable lang yan sa mga paulit ulit na tumatakbo sa posisyon… yung mga pinapasa sa asawa or kamaganak ang pagtakbo… kapag newcomer ka, exempted ka sa tax na ito…

    • Avatar for Abe Olandres Abe Olandres says:

      No disrespect but your suggestion can be construed as anti-poor. This will gravely affect Party-list candidates that come from marginalized sectors like farmers, fisherfolks, laborers, PWDs, youth sector, etc.

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