Organic News

Local Influencers react to IRAS’ letter on taxable income


The bomb has dropped. Bloggers are now required to declare their income earned from attending events, food tastings or advertorials.

TIM speaks to a few influencers and check out their reactions:

1) How will you feel if you receive the IRAS letter?

2) Do you think this is fair for bloggers?

 

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Sophie Leow, Full-time Blogger who blogs at http://www.sophleow.com

If I receive the IRAS tax letter, I would personally feel conflicted as I see pros and cons in the movement.

Their act of having bloggers declare their income and submit the due tax is not all that bad as it proves that the society – or the government – is starting to recognise and accept a ‘blogger’ as a legitimised profession.

With that said, IRAS could have been fairer to bloggers by doing a better job in industry consultation before having meted out the guidelines; such as the need to declare sponsored items or services. Ultimately the guidelines have failed to capture the hidden operational cost of the business like equipments and travel, and thus has assumed that the work done is cost free which is inaccurate.

 

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Silver Ang, Actress and Blogger who blogs at http://thatsilvergirl.blogspot.sg

I think I’m okay with it actually. After all I have been declaring my tax for blogging for the past few years.

I think this is fair for everyone, as it is also a source a income. If your hawker or roadside cleaner should be taxed, why shouldn’t you too? With so many bloggers doing blogging full-time, it is a primary source of income for these bloggers. Also, I find it comforting actually to know that even the government is acknowledging bloggers as contributors to society, as well as recognising it as a profession.

 

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Maybeline Sim, part-time blogger who blogs at  http://blog.myfatpocket.com/maybelinesim

If we receive a letter from IRAS, does it mean that we are famous enough to be taxed because we are seen as earning income that is taxable? It’s sad. Some of us started out as a personal blog with no intention of making money. Some hold a full time job and blogging is like a part time hobby.

I guess it is fair to tax A LITTLE to those who hold it as a full time job. However, most of us have a full-time job. Agencies are paying us a tiny bit of money for our time and services. How can our time and services be taxed this way when we are already paying tax for our full time job? Are we not encouraged to do something more constructive?

Moreover, the money earned is not fixed per month. I wonder for event girls doing events, girls doing shoot for blogshops, are they being taxed too???

It’s like saying… Small online business, no matter how small have to be taxed too! We don’t care if you are baking cupcakes or whatsoever… If you are making money out of your hobby, you will be taxed! It seems like we have to pick a hobby carefully now….

 

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Ben Jermie aka Chocolate Pistol who blogs at http://chocolatepistol.com

It is a grey area when it comes to the amount that should be taxable. Yes, income-wise, all monetary payments should be payable. In fact, I have declared my previous monetary income from blogging as it is only right. Moreover, as Singaporeans and bloggers, it is our part to make sure that we declare our income to set the right example. This taxable income serves great purpose, and I am glad that I can do my part for society too.

However, many times the “payments” we received aren’t via monetary terms. As bloggers, these could be in the form of free products or discounts. For example, if I was given a skin care review to be made by a particular client, a range of products will be given to me for me to try. However, I may only end up liking one or two products out of the bunch and choose to write about it. And this should definitely not be equivalent to an amount to be taxed since it will be hard to justify. Moreover, we may be given products which we may not fancy and hence not blogged about those by instead those which are more suited for us, but why do I have to pay tax on even products which are not suited for me but given because of a sponsorship? This goes the same for outfits that I wear to events. To be honest, I do not even know the actual cost of most of the outfits I am given to wear to events as we are promoting the brand, and the awareness of it. The cost is something we are less concerned about. There are also many other such instances like food tasting, etc. Hence, it is extremely difficult to justify non-monetary gains as you can see from the above.

 

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Kaiting, Undergraduate, a part-time Blogger who blogs at  http://www.kaitinghearts.blogspot.sg

Angry! Because it doesn’t make sense to PAY tax on NO INCOME (for sponsored products) not to mention it’s very subjective and unfair. What if people who receive sponsored products don’t call themselves bloggers? Then what makes it different that just because we term ourselves as bloggers we have to pay? Furthermore we often do a lot a lot for sponsored products or sponsorship. (point: What Wee Heng wrote about being a food blogger on his Facebook) and now, not even being paid to help restaurants blog, but we have to fork out money from our nonexistent “income” to pay tax?

It is definitely not fair because for a part time blogger like me, I’m still studying and I do blogging on a part time basis where 90% of the time I DON’T GET MONETARY RETURNS AT ALLL. Where is my “income” then? If someone is going to sign a contact with me to pay me thousands of dollars every month just to be a blogger, then ok IRAS, I’ll pay tax. If there is no monetary income, where do you want me to dig out my “income” from?

 

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William Tan, Co-founder of The Influencer Network & Blogger who blogs at http://onlywilliam.blogspot.com

I’ve been blogging since 2008 and have not receive any of such letter yet. I will feel weird to have it in my letter box.

I think it is unfair to many passionate bloggers. Especially for food bloggers, imagine they get invited to a hotel’s restaurant for food tasting and we all know the food is not cheap. And most of the time, the blogger do not get paid for food reviews. If they have to pay tax, who will dare to go food tasting again? The restaurants will suffer in the long run too.

 

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Joey Ching How, a community strategist & a part-time blogger who blogs at http://www.talkingevilbean.com

They were probably in a board meeting and the director might have asked something like “how should we increase our revenue?” “Let’s engage bloggers to increase awareness”
“WAIT, instead of paying them, WHY NOT WE JUST TAX THEM? We get awareness PLUS we don’t need to spend a single cent!”

Although I feel that this is unfair as a blogger, I have read before that bloggers all over the world are actually required to file taxes for the income they earned. It’s just that the blogging industry in Singapore is still relatively new, thus there weren’t much awareness on this.

But really, if we have to find someone to blame for this, it would be those who keep haolian to the media they earn $1000 per campaign la!

 

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Gerald Png, Co-Founder of The Influencer Network and Blogger who blogs at http://www.Geraldpng.com

I feel that IRAS is manipulating and restricting freelancers(bloggers) the freedom and opportunity in the blogging industry. If bloggers got their sponsorship like for example, facial products or food tasting, do they have to clarify or state that they went for the food tasting/try the product? It makes no sense.

It’s really unfair for bloggers who are trying to blog for a living because they have to be controlled by the government(IRAS) no matter what they do. I personally feel that in order to be fair, IRAS should be asking the client/provider to declare their advertorials/sponsorship and leave the bloggers alone.

 

Edited by Dennis Toh

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