Taxation for Philippine Social Media Influencers

Whenever my content creator friends and social media influencers would ask me when is it the best time to pay taxes, I would always tell them that once you are earning, you have to pay. And this is not because I want to be some goody two shoes in this industry, but personally, what I value most is peace of mind. So today, let’s go through this RMC about Taxation for Social Media Influencers.

Believe me! I had my fair share of missed tax filings and books that were not updated years ago, and it was not a fun thing to go through. I had to pay exorbitant fees, but I couldn’t blame anybody else. Paying taxes is the responsibility of the tax payer, so I couldn’t blame my accountant or blame the BIR for charging me. Having no knowledge of the law is not an excuse, so we all better brush up on learning about taxes.

Why are we discussing this? Yesterday, our tax ministry, the BIR, released a Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) or a memo reminding everyone that all Social Media Influencers to file and pay their taxes. This is RMC97-2021. Some of you would ask “who are Social Media Influencers”? So the BIR actually gave a run down of who these people are and they specifically mentioned those who are under the YouTube Partner Program or basically people who are earning from Youtube.

But, if you earn via direct advertising, meaning you get paid by brands, or you earn via other platforms like Facebook (via support badges, stars, etc.), Twitch (via bits and subs), Kumu (via in app gifts, etc.), Instagram, even Affiliate commissions, please please please do pay taxes for these things, well. The law states that if you earn any income on Philippine soil, you will have to declare taxes for these earnings.

So how do you begin?

I wrote a blog post before where I explained how you can start paying taxes as a freelancer: A FREELANCER’S AND CONSULTANT’S GUIDE TO USING TAXUMO

Feel free to go through this post.

In the RMC, BIR also goes through the allowable deductions or basically, what are the expenses that you can declare. It also goes through compliance from registration, to updating your books and filing and paying taxes (which I discussed in the shared linked above for Freelancers).

The BIR goes on to remind the penalties for tax evasion and failure to file a return.

Penalties for Online and Social Media Influencers who evade taxes and who fail to file their taxes

After that, the BIR discusses double taxation. Double taxation is basically being taxed by the platforms that you use and being taxed as a professional. An example for this is that Google LLC withholds 24% of your earnings. Then when you declared in the Philippines as a tax payer, you will have to pay VAT/Percentage, Income tax and (if applicable) withheld taxes.

To avoid double taxation, one must secure a tax residency certificate (TRC) from the BIR and then this is submitted to the foreign platform who is applying taxes in their own countries. Note that this is only applicable to platforms and entities in countries that the Philippines has a tax treaty with.

What happens to your taxes in that foreign country? In the case of Google LLC, the previously withheld 24% will now become 15% and then you still have to pay taxes in the Philippines. Of course, for other platforms, they will have yet to share what their own taxes are.

So with the reminder yesterday, the last section of the RMC states this…

So there you have it. If you have questions or you need assistance, feel free to chat with Taxumo via the chat button on their site: https://www.taxumo.com or email them your inquiries customercare@taxumo.com.

MythBuster: Why You Need to Pay Your Taxes as a Freelancer

Are you one of those freelancers who still ask why you need to pay your taxes?

I have heard many freelancers express their fear and disappointment about paying their taxes. “Why should we pay when we don’t have a stable income?” “Why should we pay when we can hide what we earn since we earn online?… the government doesn’t have to know!” Well, for the record, it’s not only freelancers who feel this way. For the longest time, this has been the sentiment of Filipinos in general.

It’s tough to live in a country where tax laws are so complicated. These laws are so complicated that you end up not paying at all. It’s difficult balancing understanding taxation with looking and working for clients as a freelancer. There’s just not enough time.

If you are facing these same dilemma as a freelancer, then I am here to tell you that there is nothing to fear. Instead of thinking of all of the disadvantages, let me share with you why I pay taxes as a freelancer. Let me give you the lo down why it’s actually beneficial to pay taxes and become “legit” self-employed individuals.

Enjoy your income! Enjoy being a Freelancer.

What good is hard-earned money when you can’t enjoy it. We all want to travel, have cars, own a house, etc. But in order to get our VISA approved or our car or home loans approved, we need to show proof of income. Since we are not “employed”, we don’t have a payslip to show or a Certificate of Employment to present. The chances that our VISA will be denied is high.

When you regularly pay your taxes as a freelancer, you have your tax forms that you can show as supporting document when you apply for a VISA or for loans. Your chances to get approved are higher, and you don’t have to worry about not ever having any proof of income. Remember though that you need to be a regular and consistent tax payer, meaning you have tax forms for every kind of tax that you need to pay and you never skipped filing / paying your taxes. To make it easier for you, you can check out https://www.taxumo.com to help you with your taxes.

 

Easily verify your PayPal account and will never encounter problems if your Business Documents are in place

PayPal is now strict when it comes to presenting proof of your existence. PayPal will require you now to present these “proofs”. This I think is a good move. This keeps all scammers away and protects all of us non-scammers! Here are the requirements from PayPal.

Proof of Identity: Present a valid proof of identity

PayPal accepts a copy of:

  – Your national ID card (front and back),

  – Your driving license (front and back),

  – Your Passport, or

  – Other photo ID that was issued by a government body

All of the information below must be visible on the document:

  – First and last name

  – Date of birth

  – Date of issue and expiry

  – Document ID number

Note: The document needs to be fully visible. Partial documents cannot be accepted as a valid proof of identity.

 

Proof of Business Address: Verify your business address by providing a valid proof of address

PayPal accepts a copy of:

  – Utility bills (phone and broadband services, health insurance, gas, water, electricity, etc.)

  – Bank or credit card statements

  – Any other government-issued letters or statements in your name

You can take a photo of your document and upload it to your PayPal account. You can also send us a copy or a screenshot of your online bills/statements.

They do not accept:

  – Purchase receipts/invoices

  – Partial documents

  – Screenshots of your online banking or service pages

IMPORTANT NOTE:

    • The name and address on the documents must match those on your PayPal account.
    • The proof of address document must be dated within the last 6 months.
    • We cannot accept P.O. Box addresses as physical address verification.

 

Business Info: Verify your business entity by providing a proof of business documentation
What is a valid proof of business?

Please submit a copy of your Business Registrations (Business registrations, Memorandum/Article of Association, Certificate of Incorporation or equivalent).

This document(s) must collectively contain the following information:

      • Who owns or controls your business,
      • The business name, registration number, and
      • The latest validity period of the business.

These are the things that you need to present. When you register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the Philippines as a Freelancer, you will have a Certificate of Registration or a COR. You will be able to submit this as proof of business. Once you have a COR though, you will need to regularly pay your taxes for your freelancing business.

If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can sign up here: http://bit.ly/GA_O_PayPalSignUp

Here is a quick video on how to sign up for a PayPal account:

Get bigger and higher paying Local Clients!

The thing about getting international or foreign clients is that there is a lot of competition. I’ve seen though that the local landscape is in dire need for more suppliers.

Local companies are now open to hiring independent contractors. In order to land a job with huge corporations or even just so you can haggle your pay, you need to be able to issue an official receipt.

Official receipts are documents that support sales of service, and it is issued upon collection of payment from customers. The large companies use official receipts as supporting documents for accounting entries that they create, and they also use it as “expense” when they compute for their own taxes.

So as a freelancer, this is what I do. I go through a supplier accreditation process. This process requires me to submit all of my business documents.

Then when I win a project, I send an invoice so that I can bill for services. Most local clients accept paperless invoices, such as a PayPal invoice. You can prepare your invoice conveniently using PayPal then you can send it through email. You can also use it as a reminder to collect payment and even send recurring payments to continuous projects.

After payment has been given, this is the time when you send the BIR Official Receipt.

 

Be a Responsible Filipino Citizen

Paying taxes is our duty as Filipino Citizens. If we truly want to help our country grow and prosper, we need to pay your taxes as a freelancer. Every day, we are experiencing things that we paid for with our taxes (drive through highways, take public transportation, etc.). If we want to see more improvement, we need to do our part and contribute by paying your taxes.

Also, if we want a voice, we need to earn that voice. I don’t think we have the right to complain if we’re not at least paying our taxes 🙂

 

Avoid being Penalized

In my opinion, this is the last and the least of your worries. If you are regularly paying then you need not worry about this. But for your information, yes, you can be imprisoned for tax evasion and non-filing of appropriate forms.

Failing to file and pay your taxes come with hefty penalties and can range from imprisonment for 2 to four years. Summed up, it can reach as high as up to five times than your original tax due. So, it would be better to pay your dues and avoid being penalized.

Personally, my freelancing business grew, because I’m legit and I pay taxes. Business partners, brands, and other people that I work with and plan to work with respect and trust me more, because I have a legit business. Having business documents will open you up to more opportunities and tools that you can use.

It’s always good to start your freelancing career the “legit” way, so you need not backtrack and fix stuff.

 

Work well and do it right! Pay your taxes as a freelancer!

P.S. For more information, click here: https://mommyginger.com/freelancers-questions-taxation-answered.html