Kerala: I-T dept closely monitoring brand endorsements, investments of YouTubers
On June 22, Kerala witnessed a significant and unprecedented action taken by the Income Tax department against YouTubers from the state
On June 22, Kerala witnessed a significant and unprecedented action taken by the Income Tax department against YouTubers from the state. Ten teams, operating under the Kochi intelligence division of the I-T department, conducted raids at the residences and offices of 13 YouTubers, including actress and TV host Pearle Maaney.
The raids were prompted by allegations of tax evasion by the YouTubers, some of whom earn crores through video sharing and social media platforms.
According to sources within the Income Tax department, although some of these influencers filed their income tax returns, they concealed their earnings from content creation. It was discovered that some influencers were ignorant of the income tax regulations, leading to their troubles.
An officer told that some influencers argued that they had substantial expenses related to creating content.
After deducting expenses, they considered the remaining amount as their income while filing the taxes.
I-T sleuths monitored over 30 influencers for several months and shortlisted 13 individuals for further scrutiny. The department is also closely examining influencers' brand endorsements, foreign trips, gifts received, and investments made in real estate.
Social media service providers are obligated to provide income data of content creators when requested by the I-T department, as it falls outside the realm of personal data for social media users.
I-T sources say that the maximum money for content is made from YouTube and Facebook, and some of these niche-content creators failed to file the taxes properly even after earning over Rs 3 crore from YouTube alone in the last three years.
The raids commenced at 8am on Thursday and continued until late evening. It has been reported that the I-T department may take steps to deactivate the social media accounts of influencers who fail to comply with tax filing regulations.
Interestingly, on the night of June 22, Kerala police also took action against a controversial Malayali influencer named Thoppi.
Thoppi, who has a large following among teenage boys, was apprehended in Kochi for using obscene language in public and obstructing traffic while attending the inauguration of a shop in Valanchery, Malappuram.