A cash reward awaits anyone who tips authorities about tax-evading influencers, but the process may not be as easy as it sounds.
Authorities won’t give rewards to everybody who tips them willy-nilly. There’s a whole process to it and tipsters need to gather enough evidence to build up a case against the influencer to prove that they aren’t paying their taxes.
Following the BIR's memo last Aug. 16 requiring social media influencers and online sellers to pay taxes on their income, former BIR examiner Mon Abrea told One News about how anyone can receive a reward from the government for reporting tax-evading influencers.
“Halimbawa follower ako ng sikat na YouTuber tapos napanood ko bumili siya ng bahay, sinasabi niya kinita niya. Puwede kong i-inform si BIR at kapag nakolektahan siya, meron pa akong reward at incentive," he shared.
In an interview with The Philippine STAR, BIR Deputy Commissioner Marissa Cabreros detailed the procedure.
“Filing of information cannot just be a general statement of non-payment of taxes. Informer must be able to share information, lead or documents for the BIR to pursue preliminary investigation,” she said.
Informants must provide details and submit documents to the BIR to justify their allegations, then submit a sworn statement to begin preliminary investigation.
Moreover, some individuals are disqualified from being informers and receiving cash incentives. This includes BIR employees, anyone in public office, a former BIR employee who acquired the evidence during their time with the agency, or relatives (up to the sixth civil degree of consanguinity) of a BIR employee.
If tax fraud or evasion is proven, informers can expect rewards of either 10% of the sum of all revenues recovered from the tax violator or P1 million per case—whichever is lower.
The government will get a cut of this reward as it will also be subject to income tax.
Abrea said that the BIR gets their sources on who these tax-evading individuals are from traditional media (like when they see a name published or on a billboard) and digital platforms (from what these influencers post online).
“Dahil dito sa pandemiya, napansin ni BIR na lahat nagshift sa online. Kung tutuusin nga dapat noong unang quarantine palang, hinabol na nila. Pero hindi, binantayan lang nila, inobserve lang nila," Abrea said.
"Pero ang problema, ang daming nagpopost ng bagong sasakyan, bagong bahay at napansin siguro ni BIR ‘teka sino tong mga to? Bakit wala silang mga TIN number at di sila rehistrado?’"
The BIR continues to remind influencers and online gamers making a living through online platforms to register to avoid penalties and fines. During a press briefing on Aug. 24, Tuesday, Cabreros said that the income or business tax of these individuals will depend on what they earn annually. So influencers and gamers earning P250,000 or less will be exempt from paying income taxes based on the TRAIN law. (with Elijah Felice Rosales)