By Amina Hilda
Social media vendors and influencers operating in Cameroon will be required to pay taxes starting from this year.
This taxation directive is part of the provisions outlined in the 2024 Finance Law, recently approved by the National Assembly.
The revelation comes from a circular on the execution of the 2024 Finance Law signed on December 29, 2023, by the Minister of Finances, Paul Motaze.
The circular specifies that, “…it is established at a rate of 5% for the tax on non-commercial profits (BNC), applicable to income generated on digital platforms by individuals who carry out property sale operations, provision of a service or exchange, sharing of a good (collaborative economy)”.
Effectively, individuals involved in online sales and social media influencers, who derive income through their platforms, will now be subject to taxation under the new law.
Activists like Jorel Jacques Zang see this development as a positive step towards shaping the social media sphere in Cameroon.
Zang expressed his support, stating, “Very good and excellent decision. All the pages that make useless gossip will disappear a little and stop distracting Cameroonians in trivialities.”
However, the introduction of this tax has sparked questions regarding its purpose and transparency in fund utilization.
Concerns have been raised about the lack of clarity on how the tax revenue will be allocated and utilized for public welfare.
A concerned Internet user highlighted the transparency in Western countries, where citizens are informed about the utilization of tax money for public services, infrastructure, and social services.
“In the Western world, public money and its management are transparent. Citizens know where tax money goes and what it is used for roads, hospitals, public services, schools, drinking water, electricity, social services, roads, town planning, etc,” he said.
He continued by lamenting that, “with us, the money is used unofficially to purchase, medical evacuations for administrators and their relatives, the enjoyment of the Intercontinental for 41 years.”
The skepticism extends to the methods the government intends to employ to ensure the effective implementation of this decision.
Many are seeking clarification on the mechanisms that will be put in place to guarantee compliance and prevent potential tax evasion in the dynamic and often decentralized realm of social media income generation.
The Cameroon Government has introduced dozens of new taxes this year, with the Social Democratic Front Chairman Joshua Osih putting the number of new taxes at 87.
The increase in taxation, the government earlier announced, is part of its quest for new income sources to curtail its heavy reliance on oil revenue.
As this taxation policy takes effect, it opens a new chapter in the relationship between the government and the digital influencers and vendors, adding another layer of financial responsibility to those operating in the digital space.
The coming months will likely witness discussions and debates on the practical implications of this tax, including its impact on the digital economy and the broader social media landscape in Cameroon.