Egypt has announced plans to tax its social media content creators, triggering mixed reactions.
In a statement issued on 25 September, the Egyptian tax authority said that “YouTubers and bloggers” earning over 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($32,000) a year would be taxed.
One of the country’s senior tax authority officials, Mohamed al-Gayyer, spoke on a telephone interview with the Sada al Balad satellite channel to ease any confusion regarding the new tax.
“Anyone who makes a profit in Egypt must be fairly taxed whatever their field of work is,” he said.
Al-Gayyer also confirmed that the calculation of the new tax would start from 1 January until 31 December 2021.
Another tax official, Mohamed Keskh, confirmed that those who fail to comply with the new decision could be found in breach of tax evasion laws, an offence carrying a jail sentence of up to five years.
Online, the decision sparked controversy with very split reactions to the new law.
Some took to Twitter in support of the new decision, believing it fair for those earning an income via their online platforms to be taxed.
والله انا لو بطلعلي بنص مليون جنيه من يوتيوب او تيكتوك او غيره ماعنديش مشكله خالص ادفع ضرايب….الصياح ده بجد ليه ؟؟
— ليدي ديانا♀ (@didodo246) September 25, 2021
Translation: I swear if I earned half a million pounds from YouTube or TikTok, or any other site I wouldn’t have any problem at all paying taxes… seriously, what is all this shouting for?
في موضوع الضرائب على يوتيوب، الصح هو فرض ضرائب على شركات جوجل، يوتيوب، فيسبوك، تويتر، الخ…. ليه ؟ لانهم مستفيدين من مستخدمين في مصر عن طريق الاعلانات و البيانات المتاحة لهذه الشركات و بدون دفع اي ضرائب حقيقية
— Hassan Heikal (@heikalh) September 26, 2021
Translation: On the subject of taxes on YouTube, it is correct to impose taxes on Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. why? Because they benefit from users in Egypt through advertisements and data available to them without paying any real taxes.
Others disagreed, taking the stance that the Egyptian government has no authority to tax internet personalities.
حوار فرض #الضرائب علي قناة اليوتيوب والربح من الإنترنت ده مستفز جدا ، إزاي أسجل كيان وأدفع له ضرايب والدولة نفسها مش هي اللي بتقدملي الخدمة! لو صحيت يوم القناة اتقفلت انت هتفيدني في إيه؟ في ناس بتحقق ملايين خدوا منها لكن القناة دي لابيت ولا محل ولا ولا علي أرض الدولة #مصر
— Mohamed Sayed (@Mohmdsay) September 26, 2021
Translation: The issue of imposing taxes on YouTube channels and profiting from the internet is very annoying. How do I register an entity and pay taxes for it when the state itself is not the one who offers me the service! If I woke up one day with the channel closed, how would you help me? There are people who make millions, take from them, but this channel has no home, no shop, and is not on land belonging to the state.
The US already taxes the video-sharing platform YouTube, which in turn taxes its YouTubers. For some, this means that there is no justification for Egypt to impose any further taxation.
موضوع ضرايب اليوتيوبرز ده هيخلق مشكلة قانونية لان يوتيوب بتاخد من ارباح اليوتيوبرز ضرايب بتددفع في امريكا، فاذاي هيدفعوا عنها ضرايب تاني في مصر؟!
— Ahmed Abd El-Fatah (@AhmedFatah) September 25, 2021
Translation: This issue of YouTubers’ taxes will create a legal problem because YouTube already takes taxes from YouTubers; profits that are paid in America. So how will they pay other taxes for it in Egypt?
One user appeared to agree with the new taxation, providing that the money taken in taxes is used to benefit the wider public.
“If the government will impose taxes on YouTubers and internet personalities, then it is the least of their duty to improve the quality of the internet,” they wrote.
Social media in Egypt is highly policed. The law allows any social media account with more than 5,000 followers to be monitored. Meanwhile, authorities have used the country’s cybercrime laws to imprison and fine those whose online content is deemed inappropriate.