The Philippines Bureau of Immigration has updated its travel restrictions and requirements for inbound and outbound travelers as of 9 August, while the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on 17 August issued guidance on the tax residence and permanent establishment implications of individuals working in the Philippines due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
In the context of ongoing quarantine measures in the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration released a public advisory on travel restrictions and requirements for inbound and outbound travelers as of 9 August.1 The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on 17 August issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 83-2020 on the tax residence and permanent establishment implications of individuals working in the Philippines due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.2
The changes to the travel restrictions and requirements are important for employers in responding to business requirements in the Philippines, such as those sending employees with immigrant visas to the Philippines to manage projects that have been pending or delayed.
Moreover, the latest tax guidelines will help in cross-border planning and assessment of potential corporate tax risks arising from the extended stay of employees in the Philippines.
Certain individuals can enter the Philippines subject to visa requirements and compliance with Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) requirements.
The visa requirement is also imposed on foreigners who previously enjoyed visa-free privileges. In addition to the visa requirement, the IATF also requires that the individuals:
1 Have a pre-booked accredited quarantine facility;
2 Have a pre-booked COVID-19 testing provider; and
3 Be within the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.
Foreign nationals can leave the Philippines at any time during the quarantine period. However, only the following Filipino citizens are allowed to leave the Philippines for essential travel:
1 Filipinos who are overseas workers.
2 Students enrolled abroad and participants accepted in exchange visitor programs;
3 Filipinos who have permanent resident status in their country of destination; and
4 Filipinos who are going abroad for business and work, medical, emergency and humanitarian reasons subject to the following conditions:3
Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 83-2020 relaxes application of tax treaty provisions to mitigate potential tax burdens related to tax reporting and filing obligations.
The circular states that if an individual is prevented from leaving the Philippines due to COVID-19, the individual will not be regarded as being present in the Philippines for tax residence purposes for the period after the scheduled day of departure provided that there is sufficient documentation such as the following:
1 Authenticated sworn certification stating the relevant facts and circumstances of the bona fide presence of the employee in the Philippines;
2 Duly executed contract/s (must be “consularized” or apostilled if executed/signed in a foreign country);
3 Certified true copy of the confirmed booking or flight itinerary for the original flight;
4 Certified true copy of the confirmed booking or flight itinerary for the re-booked flight;
5 Certified true copy of the travel advisory on the cancellation of flight issued by the airline company;
6 Certified true copy of boarding pass;
7 Certified true copy of the employee’s passport, including blank pages thereof; and
8 Other documents that the Bureau shall deem necessary depending on the circumstances.
The tax authorities also clarified the following points on creating a permanent establishment (PE) during the period of the pandemic:
1 A home office would not create a PE for the foreign enterprise because the conduct of business activities lacks a certain degree of permanency and the home office is not at the disposal of the foreign enterprise.
2 Temporary interruptions of construction activities due to COVID-19 should be included in computing the duration of a site and in determining whether such construction site constitutes a PE.
3 In the case of a dependent agent, the effects of COVID-19 will not result in the creation of a PE if the following requirements are met:
* Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not offer immigration services or labour law services. However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in the Philippines.
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