Tax­ing FB, stream­ers DIG­I­TAL COR­NER

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - TECHTALKS - Paolo Capino

This may be an un­pop­u­lar opin­ion but Face­book, Twit­ter, Google, and en­ter­tain­ment stream­ing sites like Net­flix, Ama­zon, and iFlix should be taxed by the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment.

I be­lieve there is now a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of house­holds with mul­ti­ple sub­scrip­tions to stream­ing ser­vices, thus the Bureau of In­ter­nal Rev­enue (BIR) should con­duct a tech­ni­cal study on how the gov­ern­ment can gen­er­ate rev­enues from them.

While of­fer­ing ser­vices for free, Face­book, Twit­ter and Google profit im­mensely from com­pa­nies that ad­ver­tise in their plat­forms to take ad­van­tage of their re­spec­tive sys­tems and al­go­rithms to also gen­er­ate

“The Philip­pines is the world’s so­cial me­dia cap­i­tal de­spite its rel­a­tively slower In­ter­net.

profit.

The so­cial me­dia plat­forms’ po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence can also be abused and ma­nip­u­lated via posts that es­cape vet­ting and polic­ing. Spread­ing pro­pa­ganda through them is very much alive.

As they re­solve flawed in­ter­nal poli­cies and pro­grams, tax­ing Face­book and other so­cial me­dia plat­forms in the Philip­pines would be repa­ra­tion for all the dam­age they are in­flict­ing on our coun­try’s democ­racy.

Google’s YouTube has al­lowed the pro­lif­er­a­tion of in­flu­encers with­out be­ing trans­par­ent on how much these in­di­vid­u­als earn from their own chan­nels.

The BIR should, there­fore, cre­ate a dig­i­tal team that would look into the eco­nomic ecol­ogy of in­flu­encers and how col­lab­o­ra­tions and con­nec­tions can cre­ate more wealth not only to users but to Google as well. The gov­ern­ment should have a slice of that pie to dis­trib­ute to peo­ple who are so­cially im­mo­bile due to the pan­demic.

TikTok should not be ex­empted from tax­a­tion as lo­cal­ized ad­ver­tise­ments are now be­ing run on the world’s big­gest so­cial me­dia plat­form. It is only a mat­ter of time be­fore Tiktok in­flu­encers gen­er­ate enough fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives while es­cap­ing pay­ing the gov­ern­ment its due.

Dig­i­tal tax­a­tion is a novel con­cept, but it is es­sen­tial be­cause rev­enue sources are lim­ited and busi­nesses are not op­er­at­ing as they used to prior to the COVID-19 lock­down.

Tech cap­i­tal­ists, mean­while, are us­ing free­dom of speech to es­cape pay­ing taxes and be­ing held ac­count­able for what­ever fake news, pro­pa­ganda or hate views are ex­pressed through them.

The Philip­pines is the world’s so­cial me­dia cap­i­tal de­spite its rel­a­tively slower In­ter­net.

Statista.com es­ti­mates users from our coun­try will reach 90 mil­lion by 2025.

If the BIR ig­nores the po­ten­tial rev­enue that the gov­ern­ment can use to help poor Filipinos, it will pres­sure more lo­cal en­trepreneur­s to cough up more money and may re­sult in mul­ti­ple bank­rupt­cies.

We must hold dig­i­tal com­pa­nies based out­side the Philip­pines ac­count­able fi­nan­cially and for them to re­ally crack down on their al­low­ing the spread of ha­tred and fake news.

“The

so­cial me­dia plat­forms’ po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence can also be abused and ma­nip­u­lated via posts that es­cape vet­ting and polic­ing. Spread­ing pro­pa­ganda through them is very much alive.

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