Tax expert and former Bureau of Internal Revenue examiner Mon Abrea said not many people know about the reward they could possibly get for being an informant or tipping authorities about tax evaders.
Anyone who will report a social media influencer who does not pay taxes could receive up to P1 million in reward from the government, former Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) examiner Mon Abrea bared on Monday, Aug. 23.
“‘Yun ‘yung hindi masyado alam ng publiko. Tayo mismo pwede kumita…‘pag sinabi natin o tinuro natin ‘yung mga kasama natin na mukhang hindi nagbabayad ng buwis. (That’s what people don’t know much about. We can actually earn…when we report fellow citizens who seem to be evading taxes),” Abrea told “Agenda” on One News.
On Monday, Aug. 16, the BIR released Revenue Memorandum Circular 97-2021 reminding all social media influencers, individuals or corporations, of their tax obligations.
In the memorandum signed by Commissioner Caesar Dulay, the BIR said the agency has been receiving reports that certain influencers have not been paying their income taxes despite earning huge incomes from different online platforms.
There are also reports that they are not registered with the agency or are registered under different tax types or lines of businesses but are also not declaring their earnings from their digital platforms, the BIR added.
“Whatever may be the reasons, it is now the most opportune time to discuss the tax obligations of these social media influencers,” the memorandum read.
According to BIR, “social media influencers” include those individuals who generate income for service as bloggers and vloggers from any online sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit and Snapchat.
Abrea explained that social media influencers need to pay taxes just like media practitioners, artists, or self-employed, and others. They also need to register with the BIR for their tax obligations.
It is easy for the BIR to find out who is not in their system, according to Abrea, adding that they can be traced through an informant, the traditional way which is the publication of names or through billboards, and the digital platforms.
“It’s easy to trace them, it’s just like a bank account. It’s easy to type your name in the system of the BIR,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“The easiest basis here is when you don’t have a TIN (tax identification number) or you are not registered. This is for sure tax evasion because you earn a huge amount but you are not registered,” he added.
The former BIR examiner also said some companies used to tolerate social media influencers and other artists who are not registered with the BIR.
“Dapat patas tayo kasi ‘yung mga kababayan natin na empleyado fixed income earner pero nabawas na ‘yung tax bago pa nila matanggap ‘yung sahod nila (We should be fair because our fellowmen who are employees and are fixed income earners get tax deductions even before they receive their salaries),” he noted.
Influencers who evade the payment of taxes will be punished by a fine not less than P500,000 but not more than Pl0 million and an imprisonment of six to 10 years.
On Friday, Aug. 20, the Creator and Influencer Council of the Philippines (CICP), a group of content creators and social media influencers, assured the BIR that their members are willing to pay the proper taxes.
“We would like to commend the BIR in issuing the said circular as it gives a general overview of all the tax rules and regulations that are applicable to the members of our organization,” the CICP said in a statement.
The CICP stressed the memorandum provides them information as to how its members could benefit from certain tax treaties between the Philippines and its partner countries.
“Ultimately, this information will help our members in avoiding double taxation,” the group noted.
“We view the (circular) as an opportunity to exemplify the importance we give to paying taxes and show others that we view it as a patriotic duty that any responsible citizen should fulfill,” it added.
The group also asked the BIR to introduce certain mechanisms that will ease the burden of tax compliance by using digital platforms.
“We would be happy to dialogue with the Bureau about these initiatives,” the group said.
The group added that they are now crafting a code of ethics for content creators centered around standards, fair dealing, transparency, social responsibility, and compliance with the law.
Reporting by Nadine Castro