I was having a fine day, until a little bird sent me this disturbing piece of news:
I did some digging, and this is legit. For the IRAS document, click here. If you’ve ever been to a food tasting, had a free make up product given to you for review or had ANYTHING given to you and you’ve posted a vlog or blog review…
That was taxable.
Have a look at this clause:
All non-monetary benefits such as sponsorships, products and services received are considered gains and profits from services provided as a social media influencer (including blogger, YouTuber).
Yes when I read this I was like…
Attended a Food Tasting a blogged about it?
Got a review camera from a PR firm and got to keep it?
Went on a sponsored trip or hotel stay?
It’s all considered “Profit”
That’s right. You’re going to have to self-declare all that as “profit” to you, even if you weren’t monetarily compensated. I know everyone is just doing a double-check now and asking the same question: “So, I’m not paid, but this counts as income?”
“But we don’t actually make any money off our blogs”
That the common refrain, and it’s true. In fact, food bloggers would know that for every tasting we go to, we need to:
- Take dozens of photos
- Take plenty of notes for each dish served up
- Spend the entire evening/afternoon tasting said dishes
- Take hours to process those photos, edit them and adjust them
- Spend an hour writing a draft, with reference to Press Releases, etc
- Spend another hour re-writing the draft then posting the final copy
- Spend time sharing it on social media, thinking up snazzy copy to interest people
Seriously, I think that for every “free” food tasting, we’ve paid our price in creativity to create salient, good-looking content that people would read. It is not so much a service, as it is a labour of love. Same for hotel reviews and sponsored trips.
The truth is, for all that work, I’m not paid anything. In fact, I’m not making anything. I wish I were paid, and if I were, I’d gladly declare all of that income to the authorities. However, at the moment, I’m only doing this because I love the process of creation. There are plenty of bloggers like me who create for the love of creating, with the purpose of capturing beautiful photos and channeling the essence of what they experienced into words or video. As a collective, we are being penalised for doing something we love.
I think it’s sad, and a little funny, that we’ve come to a point in our county’s storied existence when a channel of expression is taxable. If Singapore is truly trying to set itself up to become a creative hub, then I think there’s still plenty to be done with regard to taxing passion.