BIR Forms Special Task Force To Focus On Social Media Influencers, Online Merchants

The BIR has formed a special task force that will focus on social media influencers and online merchants.

BIR — The Bureau of Internal Revenue has ordered the creation of a special task force that will focus on social media influencers and online merchants.

Photo source: GMA News Online

The tax bureau has ordered the creation of a special task force in each of its 19 regional offices that will focus on newly designated sources of government revenue in order to better monitor social media posts and online transactions for tax compliance.

BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay ordered all district offices, as well as large taxpayer divisions and auditors, to monitor and verify the compliance of social media influencers, online merchants, and other businesses operating via digital or online platforms that were registered or residing within their jurisdictions.

Business transactions nowadays are executed and facilitated using internet platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Airbnb, Lazada, Shopee, etc. Regardless of the manner of doing their business or of earning income, they have the obligation to register, file their tax returns and pay whatever taxes are due to the government,” Dulay said.

According to Dulay, the conduct of business via digital platform didn’t exempt anyone from his/her/its tax obligations under the law.

Inquirer reported that revenue officers were expected to create a database of all online sellers of services and goods as well as all social media influencers (SMIs) and the properties being leased out by online lessors.

READ ALSO: Dominguez Orders BIR To Study Other Countries’ Tax Practices On Digital Transactions

The tax bureau will issue letters of authority — an official document that empowers revenue officers to scrutinize and examine taxpayers’ books in order to determine their correct tax liabilities — and will file tax evasion cases on top of other tax enforcement actions against delinquent taxpayers.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier asked Dulay to establish a dedicated unit in order to track online businesses’ sales.

The tax bureau was also told to learn from foreign tax collectors how digital transactions were being taxed in their countries efficiently.

According to a report on Inquirer, the Department of Finance said that 2,282 online-based service providers and retailers have already registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue as of October.

READ ALSO | BIR: Rewards For Tipping Off Tax-Evading Social Media Influencers Still Subject To Tax

The tax bureau reminded online sellers last year to register as taxpayers as many of whom had flourished as the pandemic shuttered most commercial establishments and restricted travel.

Inquirer also reported that the BIR invoked a 2013 regulation issued by then BIR chief Kim Jacinto-Henares.

The tax bureau was also running after delinquent social media influencers and has investigated an initial batch of about 250 who may already be earning millions of pesos through their videos or blogs but have yet to pay the corresponding income tax.

BIR’s Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 97-2021 stated that social media influencers were classified for tax purposes as “self-employed individuals” or persons engaged in business or trade as “sole proprietors”.

Data from the DOF showed that 105 content creators and social media personalities have registered with the tax bureau as of September.

There’s a pending measure in Congress pushing for a 12% value-added tax (VAT) on music and video streaming, online shopping sites, and advertisements on social media platforms.

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