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1. What is flat-rate taxation?
Influencers are not always paid with money. Brands often send free products to influencers in the expectation that they will be portrayed positively. Income does not necessarily have to consist of money; even such gifts are income that usually has to be taxed.
The flat-rate tax according to 37b EStG is usually paid by the brand to the tax office and may then be booked as a business expense. The donor, i.e., the brand, pays the flat-rate tax and thus exempts the recipient, the influencer, from taxation.
2. How much is the flat-rate tax?
The lump-sum tax is calculated according to the value of the goods, including VAT ( 37b para. 1 sentence 2 EStG).
Lump-sum taxation is excluded if the products exceed the amount of EUR 10,000 per recipient, per year, or per donation (section 37b, paragraph 1, sentence 3 EStG). This means that products exceeding this amount cannot be taxed at a flat rate.
You should request a receipt for the lump-sum taxation of the free products from the brand and keep it so that you can prove this in your tax return.
3. What are the exceptions to flat-rate taxation?
If the value of the product is less than 10 EUR, the product is considered a free gift, and there is no taxation.
Likewise, if the product is returned to the brand after the test, no tax is due.
4. What do I have to do as an influencer if products have not yet been taxed at a flat rate?
If influencers receive products and gifts, they receive so-called "benefits in kind". Income tax and, if applicable, turnover tax and trade tax must be paid on these. The respective market value is used for this.
It is therefore advisable for influencers to record all information on products received and their use (business or private) in an Excel spreadsheet during the year in order to avoid getting into trouble with evidence. The products must then be declared in the tax return. 5.
5. What are the consequences of failing to pay tax?
If influencers do not comply with their tax obligations, they risk not only considerable back tax payments but also the accrual of high interest payments. In addition, possible penal consequences such as fines or even imprisonment must also be considered.
A lack of documentation will be of little use to affected influencers in such cases. Based on internet searches and also through inquiries with brands, the tax authorities can relatively easily estimate relevant income at the expense of the influencers.
It is therefore of great importance that influencers inform themselves in good time about their tax obligations and prepare the necessary records of income and expenses.
The retention obligation for tax-relevant documents is 10 years.