Deleting accounts not sure way to keep out BIR, influencers told


DELETING social media accounts that allowed them to earn money will not prevent the national government from taxing social media influencers, according to the Department of Finance (DOF).

Finance Assistant Secretary Dakila Napao told reporters that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) can resort to third-party information to run after social media influencers who may have deleted their accounts and those who have yet to register.

Napao said as of September 15, there are 105 individual influencers and content creators. He said online retailers and service providers who have registered reached 2,282 as of September 15.

“I think there is that tool in the tax code whereby the BIR can get information from the third party so the third-party information mechanism can be relied upon by the BIR in coming after those media influencers that maybe perhaps deleted their accounts and those that did not register yet to the BIR system,” Napao explained.

“I understand that the regulation also provides for mechanism on exchange of information involving those media influencers earning income even outside of the country so there is also that mechanism that can be availed by the BIR under that tax treaties.  They can invoke that. The exchange of information rule,” he added.

However, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III clarified that deleting social media accounts will not automatically mean these individuals will be treated as tax evaders. He said deleting social media accounts is not a crime.

Nonetheless, Dominguez assured the public that the government will still “go after” these social media influencers simply because “everybody has to pay tax.”

“We will still go after them whether or not they have a social media account because if they earn money and we have evidence that they have money. They have to pay the tax. It’s just hey everybody has to pay tax, guys. Whatever source your income is,” Dominguez said.

Meanwhile, Napao said there has been no update from the BIR regarding the 250 social media influencers they have started investigating and whether the pool will be expanded to include more of these individuals.

However, Napao said the BIR is already looking into those social media influencers who have registered and could expand their investigation to those who have not registered.

Earlier, BIR said it will investigate an initial list of 250 social-media influencers to determine whether they are paying their taxes.

According to the BIR, they issued a “Letter of Authority” to each of these individuals the agency said are “top earners” in their field.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD Guballa said they are encouraging these individuals to register with the BIR.

Guballa said in his report to the DOF executive committee meeting the BIR is also undertaking “profiling of over 250 personalities.”

The sending of letters of authority came after the BIR issued Revenue Memorandum Circular 97-2021 that accused these “influencers” as not paying income taxes despite earning huge sums from different platforms.

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