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Minister announces measures to tackle tax evasion by social media influencers

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Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek has announced tax audits for 250,000 people, including social media influencers, with the goal of preventing tax evasion and the accompanying loss of tax revenue to the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

Şimşek said the ministry’s measures are aimed at individuals, especially social media influencers, who generate income from such platforms as Instagram, Twitch, TikTok and Facebook, but don’t declare it for tax purposes.

“People who have never paid taxes have been identified, and the necessary actions have been initiated,” the minister added.

Şimşek said there are also people on the tax rolls who declare no earnings at all or declare them incompletely and said measures have been put into effect for these taxpayers to prevent them from evading taxes.

Turkish authorities have recently started cracking down on some social media influencers who are allegedly involved in financial irregularities and have arrested a number of them, while others are under investigation.

Influencers under scrutiny are suspected of creating fake invoices for nonexistent products or services, faking high sales or transactions to justify large sums of money in their accounts. They face charges of money laundering, tax evasion and illegal betting.

This drew the attention of the Ministry of Finance to the income generated by these individuals via social media platforms.

The Turkish government is now preparing a comprehensive legislative package to improve the taxation of income generated through social media.

The crackdown on influencers comes amid broader economic challenges in Turkey, including inflation and depreciation of the Turkish lira.

The minister wants to take Turkey off a so-called grey list of countries at risk of money laundering and other financial crimes. Paris-based financial watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed the country on the grey list in 2021.

According to observers, the recent crackdown and scrutiny over money laundering and other criminal activities stem from Turkey’s desire to implement market-friendly policies.

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