Lawmaker urges BIR, social media influencers to dialogue on tax issue

Published August 26, 2021, 2:58 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and social media influencers and other digital workers have been asked to chill and give way to dialogue in addressing the taxation controversy that have put them at loggerheads.

Axie Infinity

Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles aired the appeal as he proposed the immediate settling of the taxation issue that started after the BIR reminded influencers to pay the correct taxes.

“We need to recognize that behind the glamor and fame, internet influencers are doing real work from conceptualization to actual production of various contents. The same can be said about other digital workers such as Axie players and scholars,” said Nograles in a statement.

He explained that a dialogue between the tax agency and social media influencers will “serve as a venue to clarify issues and concerns” brought about by BIR’s statements last week.

Nograles, a member of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology, noted that social media influencers and others involved in similar activities in the country also spend huge amount of money in labor costs and operational expenses to pursue their trade.

“Besides, most of the effort they do before being able to monetize are actually unpaid. This is why a dialogue with them is necessary so tax authorities could understand how the content creation cycle works. The dialogue will also help the BIR determine its policies on digital workers moving forward,” Nograles said.

A vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice, Nograles stated that the assertion that influencers are not paying taxes is not true.

“Their taxes are withheld when they deal with corporations for brand partnerships and this form of income is one of their largest revenue sources. For their advertisement-related income, the onus should be on big tech such as Google to undertake tax withholding as they also operate in the Philippines anyway,” the Harvard-trained lawmaker pointed out.

He said: “We would like to get more regulatory clarity on this matter and the step forward is for all parties to sit down for a thorough discussion on the entire social media landscape and determine where the government can generate revenue.” Regarding play-to-earn platforms such as Axie, Nograles reminded the BIR that they admitted that no action can be undertaken at the moment as there has been no regulatory clarity on whether it is currency or security.

“Taxation on these instruments is dependent on such clarity,” the administration solon added.