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Egypt to tax social media influencers earning over $32,000

A woman browses the Instagram account of social media influencer in Egypt's capital Cairo on July 29, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
A woman browses the Instagram account of social media influencer in Egypt's capital Cairo on July 29, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Egypt has said it will tax social media content creators earning more than 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($32,000) annually.

"Anyone who makes a profit in Egypt must be fairly taxed whatever their field of work is," said tax authority official Mohamed Al-Gayyer.

Another tax official, Mohamed Keshk, said that anyone who fails to comply faces jail time of up to five years for tax evasion.

Authorities have not clarified what fees these content creators must pay, instead of calling on them to go to the headquarters of the e-commerce unit to register themselves and ask any questions.

Social media users have asked why the government is imposing a tax on content creators and questioned whether the figures the government says certain people are earning are accurate.

READ: Egypt detaining owner of dairy company who refused to cede assets, Amnesty says

Others say that it is only fair that social media users are taxed: "Poor vegetable sellers are taxed, so we can also tax the rich," wrote one on Twitter.

Local media reports that the Egyptian Tax Authority has identified between 300 to 400 channels on YouTube which could be penalised under the tax evasion law.

The tax authority has started contacting the management of Facebook and YouTube to collect information on bloggers and social media influencers.

Egypt has cracked down on social media influencers in recent months sentencing a number of women to prison on debauchery charges, such as "violating family values."

The social media stars have become known as the TikTok girls and have an international media campaign behind them.

Under a law passed in 2018 social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers will be treated as media outlets and subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.

Egypt is the eighth-worst country in the world in terms of internet freedom, according to Freedom House, and specifically targets internet users who criticise government policies.

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