BIR probes 250 social media influencers for tax compliance

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday, September 16, announced it will be investigating an initial 250 social media influencers to check if they are registered taxpayers and have been paying the correct taxes.

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BIR said it issued letters of authority to select influencers found to be "top earners" in their field.

The bureau did not release any names.

"We will do the investigation so that they would pay the necessary corresponding tax on their earnings," BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said in his report to Dominguez.

The BIR earlier issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 97-2021, which specified that influencers should pay income tax and percentage tax or, if applicable, value-added tax.

Influencers include individuals who derive income from YouTube's partner program; those who engage in sponsored social media posts, blogs, and advertising; brand ambassadors; and affiliate marketers.

The circular also includes influencers who receive free goods in exchange for promotions. The tax for in-kind goods will be calculated according to the value of the products given.

Moreover, income treated as royalties from another country will be included in the computation of influencers' gross income.

Tax evasion is punishable by 6 to 10 years of imprisonment, as well as a fine not less than P500,000 but not more than P10 million.

Failure to file tax returns is punishable by a fine of not less than P10,000 and imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than 10 years.

A civil penalty of 50% of the tax or of the deficiency tax will also be slapped on influencers caught evading taxes. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.