BIR to start probe into initial 250 socmed influencers for possible tax evasion

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is launching an investigation to check if the highest paid social media influencers are paying correct taxes.

In a statement Thursday, the agency said it already issued Letters of Authority—which allow revenue officers to examine taxpayers' accounting records—to look into a number of online content creators who are "top earners".

The probe covers 250 social media influencers, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa noted.

In a Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 97-2021 released last August, the BIR said influencers liable for taxes are those who receive income in cash or in kind from any social media site or platform "in exchange for services performed as bloggers, video bloggers (vloggers), or as an influencer, in general, and from any other activities."

READ: Experts: New BIR memo merely reiterates social media influencers must pay taxes

RMC 97-2021 states social media influencers must pay income tax and business tax, which may either be percentage or value-added tax, and are classified for tax purposes as self-employed individuals.

The memorandum circular was issued as the BIR received reports about influencers who are not registered, or are registered but under different lines of business, not entirely declaring their earnings.

"We encourage them to register... We will do the investigation so that they would pay the necessary corresponding tax on their earnings,” Guballa said in his report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during a recent Department of Finance executive committee meeting.

The BIR warned social media influencers who fail to register and settle their tax obligations that they can face penalties and be held criminally liable under the Tax Code.