Influencers and content creators: Time to pay the piper

The French economy ministry has just published a guide for influencers and content creators reminding them of their rights and obligations. The move comes as a new law on the commercial activity of these individuals goes before parliament.

Posted jeudi, mars 30 2023
Influencers and content creators: Time to pay the piper

“Congratulations! You’re what we call an influencer or content creator!” breezes the introduction of the guide before getting down to brass tacks. The government is tightening the regulations covering the commercial activity derived from posting videos to the internet.

And the French are not alone in wanting to bring an end to the economic free-for-all of TikTokers, Youtubers and their ilk. In January, The Financial Times reported that the UK revenue and customs department is chasing 2,300 social-media influencers, Twitchers and Youtubers as it looks to tackle the problem of content-creator income going untaxed.

In the UK, social media influencers are required to pay tax on their income just like any other individual. This includes income from sponsored posts, brand collaborations, and other forms of advertising on social media platforms. If an influencer’s income from social media activities is their only source of income, they have to register as self-employed with the revenue authorities and file a self-assessment tax return each year. 

The rise of influencer marketing 
Influencer marketing has become one of the most popular and effective forms of online marketing. Three quarters of US marketers in larger companies use social media influencers for marketing purposes. Worldwide, influencer marketing was valued at $13.8 billion in 2021. And it’s not just social media stars whose videos get over a million views that are getting lucrative advertising offers, increasingly these advertising dollars are trickling down so those whose videos only have a couple of thousand views are able to secure sponsored content.

For every tax-dodging TikToker, there is a Instagram influencer who is unaware of the need to pay tax for promoting their hobby

Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the number of influencers and content creators has mushroomed in the past half decade. On Youtube alone, there are around 350,000 accounts with 100,000 subscribers and over. Roughly two million full-time content creators earn six-figure salaries by uploading regular content on various platforms including YouTube, Instagram and Twitch, according to a report by Earthweb.

Getting back to the French economy ministry’s guide, it states: “as soon as you receive payment for promoting a brand, you are an influencer.” The guide goes on to stress that any revenue, including gifts, resulting from this activity, whether part-time or full time, is subject to tax and national insurance contributions “from the very first euro.” The law applies to French nationals who live outside of France as well. Furthermore, once the law on the commercial activity of influencers is enacted, content creators will be obliged to sign a contract with advertisers.

For every tax-dodging TikToker, there is a Instagram influencer who is unaware of the need to pay tax for promoting their hobby, and now that authorities around the world are treating the activity of content creator or influencer as a job like any other, they need to make these people aware of their responsibilities as soon as possible, and not come knocking with a tax bill for videos and posts going back years.

Ironically, paying a social media influencer to create awareness of the issue may be the most effective solution for tax authorities around the globe.