Cairo – Egypt said it will tax social media content creators in a revenue raising exercise as more citizens look to online platforms to make a living.
The tax authority said “YouTubers and bloggers” earning over 500 000 pounds ($32 000) annually would be taxed, in a statement issued Saturday.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with over a 100 million people, has reached a 60% internet penetration rate, according to official figures.
Social media was awash with comments after the taxation move.
“Poor vegetable sellers are taxed, so we can also tax the rich,” an Egyptian wrote on Twitter.
But another said the latest decision would drive content creators out of the country.
“If the government wants to tax YouTubers then it must at least give us better internet and scrap the whole limited gigabytes packages,” a user chimed in on Twitter.
Mohamed al-Gayyar, a senior tax authority official, tried to temper reactions on Sunday.
“Anyone who makes a profit in Egypt must be fairly taxed whatever their field of work is,” he said on public television.
In a late Saturday interview on private television, another tax official Mohamed Keshk said those who fail to comply with the new decision could be found in breach of tax evasion laws carrying a jail sentence of up to five years.
Pro-state, late-night television host Amr Adib questioned the revenue-raising exercise.
“How many bloggers are really out there?” said the bombastic anchor, who President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regularly calls live on-air.
“The finance minister knows full well that there are millions of people who aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. They evade them,” he said.
Since 2018, authorities have placed social media users with more than 5 000 followers under supervision. They can be prosecuted for posting “fake news”.