BIR to probe tax compliance of initial 250 social media influencers

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021   •   277

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is set to launch an investigation into the initial list of 250 social media influencers to check on their tax compliance.

In a report to Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BIR said that Letters of Authority (LOAs) for the conduct of investigation have been issued to certain social media influencers found to be “top earners.”

The BIR said that social media personalities who earn money from their posts on digital media are classified as self-employed individuals or persons engaged in trade or business as sole proprietors.

Their earnings are generally considered as business income as defined under BIR’s Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 97-2021 issued last Aug. 16, the bureau added.

“We encourage them to register, and then we have the profiling of over 250 personalities. 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.

Under RMC 97-2021 issued in August, social media influencers should pay income tax and percentage tax or, if applicable, the value-added tax (VAT), as mandated under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) and other existing laws.

Based on the Circular, social media influencers are defined as those who derive their income from the following sources:

  1. a) You Tube Partner Program;
  2. b) sponsored social and blog posts;
  3. c) display advertising;
  4. d) becoming a brand representative/ambassador;
  5. e) affiliate marketing;
  6. f) co-creating product lines;
  7. g) promoting own products;
  8. h) photo and video sales;
  9. i) digital courses, subscriptions, e-books;
    j) podcasts and webinars

The Circular states, among others, that social media influencers who receive free goods in exchange for promotions must declare as income the fair market value of these products.

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.

“It must be emphasized that the BIR also has the power to obtain information from foreign tax authorities pursuant to the Exchange of Information (EOI) provision of the relevant tax treaties. The BIR has the means to verify their income as it is clothed with a special power to obtain information from its treaty partners. The BIR may safely rely on the data provided by its treaty partners to establish the influencer’s tax liability,” RMC 97-2021 stated.

“The social media influencers are, therefore, advised to voluntary and truthfully declare their income and pay their corresponding taxes without waiting for a formal investigation to be conducted by the BIR to avoid being liable for tax evasion and for the civil penalty of fifty percent (50 percent) of the tax or of the deficiency tax,” it added.

In order to avoid the risks of double taxation, the BIR advised social media influencers receiving income from a non-resident person residing in a country, with which the Philippines has a tax treaty, to inform the latter that they are residents of the Philippines, and are, therefore, entitled to claim treaty benefits provided under the relevant tax agreement.

The Circular said social media influencers who “willfully attempt to evade the payment of tax or willfully fail to make a tax return, to supply accurate and correct information or to pay tax” shall, in addition to the payment of taxes and corresponding penalties, be held criminally liable under the Tax Code.

Social media influencers na hindi nagbabayad ng buwis, tinutukoy na — BIR

Robie de Guzman   •   August 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Sinimulan na ng Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) ang proseso sa pagtukoy sa social media influencers na maaaring kasuhan dahil sa hindi pagbabayad ng buwis.

Ayon kay Atty. Marisa Cabreros, ang deputy commissioner for legal group ng BIR, bahagi ito ng mandato ng ahensiya na habulin at papanagutin ang mga tax evader.

Ani Cabreros, ang sinumang kumikita sa pamamagitan ng alinmang social media platforms ay obligadong magpa-rehistro at ideklara ang kanilang kinikita sa BIR.

Sakop nito ang mga gumagawa ng online content o nag-eendorso ng mga produkto gaya halimbawa ng mga vlogger o Youtubers.

“Basta lahat po ng ating mga nasa online ang means of kita, kumikita sila binabayaran sila sa kahit anong klase ng serbisyo na ginagawa online… Lahat po ng taxpayers, indibidwal at korporasyon na tumatanggap ng income, in-cash or in-kind na ginagamit ang media site or any other platform at any activity perform on those sites and platform basta kumikita sila,” ani Cabreros.

“Because of it sila po ang tinutukoy natin na kailangang magrehistro, yun nga lang po ang mga famous as example are our Youtubers, yung nag-live streaming sa Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, Reddit, Snapshot and all other platforms po,” dagdag pa niya.

Pero paglilinaw ng BIR, hindi lahat ng social media influencers ay pagbabayarin ng buwis.

Aniya, ang small time social media influencers na may annual net income ng hindi hihigit sa P250,000 ay exempted sa pagbabayad ng tax alinsunod sa Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law.

Kaya wala umano silang dapat na ipag-alala at sa halip ay kinakailangan lamang na magparehistro at ideklara ang kanilang negosyo.

“Kaya yung sinasabi ng iba na maliit lang kami wala naman kaming gaanong kinikita pa, wala po silang dapat ikatakot,” ani Cabreros.

Babala ng BIR, maaaring maharap sa kaso ang sinumang social media influencer na hindi magdedeklara ng kanilang kita o kaya ay hindi nagbabayad ng tamang buwis.

Maaari din silang kasuhan sa hindi pagpapa-rehistro, hindi mag-iisyu ng resibo at tax fraud.

Posibleng makulong ng hindi bababa sa anim na taon at pagmultahin ng hanggang P10 miylyon ang sinomang hindi magbabayad ng tamang buwis. RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Marvin Calas)

BIR urged to suspend imposition of tax hike on private schools

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to suspend the imposition of a 25 percent corporate income tax on private schools, warning that the added burden on struggling institutions amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to more school closures, job losses, and a more restricted access to education.

In a statement, Gatchalian said BIR’s Revenue Regulation (RR) 5-2021 runs counter to the intention of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act or the CREATE Act (Republic Act No. 11534) which seeks to impose a one percent tax rate on proprietary educational institutions for a three-year period.

The law also provides that these institutions have to pay ten percent tax on their taxable income, he added.

Under the CREATE Law, ‘proprietary’ means a private hospital or private school maintained and administered by private individuals or groups. These institutions should have an issued permit to operate from the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

But based on RR 5-2021, proprietary educational institutions have to be non-profit to avail of the reduced tax rate.

“If these rules are imposed, private schools’ income tax rate would increase by 150 percent,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

In an earlier statement, Gatchalian called the tax rule “ill-timed” considering how private schools are trying to stay afloat.

The senator cited the March 2021 Labor Force Survey, which showed that the education sub-industry had the largest decrease in the number of employed persons from February to March 2021 at 248,000.

He noted that last February, DepEd reported that 929 private schools did not operate for the school year (SY) 2020-2021. The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) also said in a statement that enrollment in private K-12 schools dropped by over 900,000 compared to the previous school year.

“Sa panahong karamihan sa ating mga private schools ay nahihirapang magpatuloy ng operasyon sa gitna ng pandemya, hindi napapanahon at hindi tamang patawan natin sila ng karagdagang buwis bilang dagdag pasanin,” Gatchalian said.

The senator likewise said that he is mulling to file a resolution that would urge the BIR to suspend the imposition of the tax hike on private schools.

 

BOC, BIR to start field testing enforcement on fuel products on April 26

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have announced their intention to begin Field Testing Enforcement activities on fuel products beginning April 26.

The testing covers gasoline, diesel, and kerosene found in warehouses, storage tanks, gas stations, other retail outlets, and in such other properties, to check if they contain the required Fuel Marker level.

Vessels, tank trucks, and similar fuel transporting vehicles will also be covered by the enforcement activities.

Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, petroleum products found without the Official Fuel Marker or not containing the required level of the Official Fuel Marker are subject to payment of duties and taxes, as well as appropriate fines and penalties.

The payment is without prejudice to the confiscation and forfeiture of such Unmarked or Diluted Fuel and the filing of the appropriate criminal case.

The Field Testing process will be done using Mobile Laboratory Units equipped with analyzers capable of detecting the Official Fuel Marker’s presence in any fuel sample.

The test result will be generated on-site and will indicate a pass or fail result. Products with failed results will be subjected to Confirmatory Testing in the Fuel Testing Facility.

For purposes of transparency, the owner of the fuel or his representative will be allowed to witness the Field and Confirmatory Testing.

The two Bureaus began the Transitory Field Testing activities in February this year and will continue until April 26, 2021.

Under the Transitory Field Testing, sample fuels from retail stations and tank trucks in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces were tested to determine the marker levels in the fuel supply available in the domestic market.

The Fuel Marking Program aims to raise revenues while curbing fuel smuggling and leveling the Philippine oil industry.

Beginning its implementation in September 2019 to December 2020, the BOC and BIR marked a total of 17.55 billion liters of fuel and have collected Php171.72 billion in duties and taxes under the program.

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