The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is determined to collect taxes from “big time” social media influencers, online sellers, and online businesses, Commissioner Lilia C. Guillermo announced during the SGV Tax Symposium last August 19, 2022.
“We will use big data analytics for processing of big data. There were complaints that we are not after those influencers, online sellers, and online businesses. We will use big data analysis from the social media data and identify big time online sellers and influencers,” said Guillermo.
It is after Senator Raffy Tulfo told the BIR that the bureau must instead focus on catching smugglers instead of influencers and online sellers.
Tulfo slammed BIR after a vlogger and an online seller complaint that some BIR agents visited their homes and asked them about their tax payments.
BIR vs Social Media Influencers
It can be remembered that September last year, the agency announced that it was monitoring the top 250 social media influencers (in terms of earning) to check if they are paying taxes.
Letters of Authority (LOAs) for the conduct of investigation were also issued to some of the influencers as the “top earners” in that field.
According to the BIR, the earnings of the social media influencers are considered as business income as defined by the agency’s Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) no. 97-2021 issued last August 16, 2021.
They are also classified as self-employed individuals or persons engaged in trade or business as sole proprietors.
Further, RMC 97-2021also requires influencers to pay income tax and percentage tax, or if applicable, value-added tax (VAT).
Influencers are defined by the memorandum as those who derive their income from YouTube, sponsored social and blog posts, display advertising, becoming a brand representative, affiliate marketing, among others.
Income treated as royalties from another country, including payments under the YouTube Partner Program, shall likewise be included in the computation of the gross income of the socmed influencer and shall be subject to tax.
BIR vs Online Sellers
Meanwhile, Guillermo clarified that the bureau will only run after the big sellers, and will ask for the help of online shopping apps Shopee and Lazada.
“Medyo ngayon parang ayaw pa nila magbigay ng data sa amin, kasi privacy daw. But I think there’s no privacy law na inaano natin,” she added.
(“They are hesitant to give the data to us as of the moment, because of privacy allegedly. But I think there’s no privacy law that we violated.”)
The Commissioner revealed that the BIR will be having a summit with the two online shopping giants to discuss a possible partnership to determine the sales of sellers, they will also tap into the online provider’s system.
However, Guillermo admitted that this will be a hard task, but they will continue on digitalization efforts.
Lastly, the bureau chief assured that they are already training statisticians to become data scientists or cybersecurity experts.
This article is published on BitPinas: BIR Eyes to Collect Taxes from ‘Big Time’ Influencers, Online Sellers
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