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YouTube to collect tax from Kenyan content creators

 YouTube logo. (Courtesy)

Kenyan YouTube content creators are expected to submit their tax information to the video-sharing platform by March 31 in order to avoid a hefty 24% taxation on their earnings.

In a new requirement, the Google-owned service will require content creators to pay taxes to the United States.

YouTube wrote a statement to creators, informing them of the condition, which will begin in June.

“We’re reaching out because Google will be required to deduct U.S taxes from payments to creators outside the U.S later this year (as early as June 2021). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be asking you to submit your tax info in AdSense to determine the correct amount of taxes to deduct, if any apply,” reads part of the message by YouTube.

According to the communication issued, if a content creator’s tax information is not provided by May 31, Google may be required to deduct up to 24% of the total earnings made by creators worldwide.

YouTube creators monetize their posts through the AdSense service, which allows them to collect a percentage of advertisement revenue from their videos.

Providing the information is done by signing into one’s AdSense account, clicking payments, then “manage settings”.

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“Scroll to ‘payments profile’ and click edit next to ‘United States tax info’. Click ‘manage tax information’,” the directions offered by Google Support read in part.

The directions state that on that page, creators will find a guide that will help them select the appropriate form for their unique tax situations.

“Google has a responsibility under Chapter 3 of the US Internal Revenue Code to collect tax info from all monetising creators outside of the US and deduct taxes in certain instances when they earn income from viewers in the US” wrote Google in their statement, adding that tax will be deducted from content targeting United States viewers.

As of 2020, there were over 37 Million YouTubers worldwide earning a living from the platform. The tech giant has a wide-reaching audience, with over 2 billion active monthly users.

The move comes after the arrest of local comedian Eric Omondi’s arrest by Kenya Film Classification Board compliance officers over his YouTube show ‘Wife Material’ raising questions over the role of the state in YouTube content creation regulations, if any.

ALSO READ: Why Kenyan creatives are in a rigorous race to garner YouTube subscribers

A statement by KFCB explained that Omondi was arrested for producing and distributing unauthorized films, contrary to the Act’s provisions which, among others, prohibits the exhibition or broadcast of films without a certificate of approval from the regulator.

“Protection of children from exposure to harmful content remains our core mandate. Any artist producing content for public consumption must ensure that they comply with the provisions of the Films and Stage Plays Act Cap 222 of the Laws of Kenya,” read the statement in part, adding that the content Omondi was creating was unsuitable for minors and morally corrupt.

On social media, Kenyans were divided, with many questioned the arrest.

“Isn’t this the same as what YouTube content creators do? Arrest all of them then. I wish Kenya would promote talent, but in other news, this will give traffic to the show,” wrote Brianna Matheka on Twitter.

According to another tweep, Bryce Eric, other users are not being asked to comply.

“I watch Jalango TV, but you have never asked him to comply. This could bring down content creators on YouTube which is outside the jurisdiction of KFCB. Let us have a decent conversation instead of arbitrary arrests,” wrote Bryce.

Another social media user, Gakuo Munene posed the question to KFCB Chief Executive Ezekiel Mutua, “Are you insinuating that all YouTube creators in Kenya should seek a license from you to upload the content that they create?”

Eventually, the self-proclaimed president of comedy, Omondi, apologized for what was considered ‘explicit content’.

"I have apologised to KFCB and the general public because I realized that some of the scenes from #WifeMaterial2 were very offensive and unnecessarily obscene, I talked to Daktari and we agreed that Content doesn't have to be dirty to sell and moving forward I promised to steer clear from that," Omondi wrote on his social media.

However, Mutua remained firm on his thoughts about the scripted reality show, stating on his Twitter that Omondi should take down the ‘offensive content by March 15 at 8 am or else the two parties would meet in court.

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