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If influencers are subject to unlimited income tax liability in Germany, their worldwide income is subject to income tax. This includes all inflows of assets in the form of money or monetary value, which the influencer receives for his work. Also benefits in kind or free services, such as branded products, free travel/hotel accommodation or free hairdressing, are regarded as income and are generally subject to taxation. For example, there may also be unplanned income for tax purposes if a jeweler gives the diamond necklace sent for photographic purposes to the influencer free of charge. In this case, the necklace is not a gift, but is to be considered as a benefit for the service provided by the influencer.
Benefits in kind are not to be considered for income tax purposes only if one of the four following conditions is fulfilled:
- Return: If the influencer sends the product back to the manufacturer without having used or consumed it before, no economic benefit is derived. The same is assumed if the influencer tests the product but then returns it because no change of ownership has taken place and therefore no monetary advantage has been gained.
- No consideration: If the influencer does not provide any consideration for a contribution in kind, this has not been received in the course of his commercial activity and is therefore classified as a gift.
- Advertising and strewing articles: Objects with a value of less than 10 € are to be declared as advertising and strewing articles and are irrelevant for tax purposes. Think here of ballpoint pens, calendars etc.
- Lump-sum income tax for non-cash benefits: The enterprise which turns to have the possibility of taxing the turned product already overall with 30%. If such a lump sum is paid, the influencer does not have to pay additional income tax on the product received.