Social media influencers

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Understanding the social media influencer economy

A social media influencer is an individual who has created a significant influence or presence on a social media platform and has an audience of users who consistently interact with the influencer’s content. Influencers can work as content creators, bloggers, photographers, journalists, fitness coaches, fashion promoters, business consultants, entertainment workers, and many other occupations. Examples of platforms that an influencer may use to publish online content may include, but are not limited to:

  • Facebook (Meta)
  • Instagram
  • Twitch
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Independent blogs

Income tax obligations

Influencers can earn income through several means, including:

  • subscriptions to their content and social media channel(s)
  • advertising for other businesses
  • collaboration with other influencers/businesses
  • partnerships with other brands/influencers/businesses
  • sponsorships from other brands/businesses
  • tips from followers and social media audiences
  • gifts from followers and social media audiences
  • donations from followers and social media audiences
  • trips from brands and sponsors
  • referral codes for merchandise/goods promotion

As an influencer resident in Canada, you must report all such income (monetary and non-monetary) earned in and outside of Canada. Report and pay tax on all income earned on social media platforms as self-employment income by completing line 26000 of your income tax and benefit return and Form T2125, Statement of Business or Professional Activities.

Influencers who are not resident in Canada are subject to Canadian income tax on most Canadian-sourced income paid or credited to them during the year unless all or part of that income is exempt under a tax treaty. More information on non-residents is available at Non-Residents and Income Tax -

Claiming expenses

  • If you qualify as a business, you can deduct business expenses, provided the expenses were incurred in earning business income. The expenses you claim must be reasonable and directly related to your income as an influencer.
  • For more information on what qualifies as a business expense, see Business expenses.

GST/HST implications

Generally, online content published by social media influencers on platforms is a taxable supply. When such supplies exceed $30,000 over four calendar quarters, social media influencers are required to register for, collect and remit (send) the related goods and services tax / harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) to the CRA. For details on registration requirements, as well as collection and sending the GST/HST to the CRA, go to Find out if you are required to register for GST/HST.

Already registered for GST/HST?

If you are a GST/HST registrant, you may be eligible to claim input tax credits for the GST/HST paid on purchases and expenses related to your commercial activities.

Generally, you can claim an input tax credit only when you have paid GST/HST (or it is payable) for your expenses on your business activities. A tax professional can advise you on your tax obligations.


Maya, a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, has always enjoyed travelling all over the world and sharing her experiences with her friends and family. A few years ago, she began posting travel information on her social media accounts (Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube, to name just a few). She posted pictures of her travel destinations, information on accommodations, things to do and other unique features that visitors are typically interested in.

When her online profiles became more popular with a growing number of followers, Maya started making money. For example, she often received money for sponsored posts and videos where she promoted different brands. As she continued to develop her travel content through blogs, photos and videos, Maya regularly received free products and services for which she posted reviews. After reaching out to travel companies in preparation for a trip to South America, Maya was offered a free all-inclusive vacation valued at $5,000. A few months ago, a fashion clothing company agreed to pay her 10% of any sales made after she promoted them on her online accounts.

Income tax implications

Maya must include on her income tax and benefit return all income she receives from commercial activities, which includes her online operations:

  • all monetary benefits, including the money from her posts, pictures, and videos, as well as the commissions from the clothing company
  • all non-monetary benefits, including the free vacation valued at $5,000

GST/HST implications

If Maya's online activities are not a personal endeavor and her total taxable supplies are more than $30,000 over four calendar quarters, she must register for, collect, and remit (send) the GST/HST on all her taxable revenue from her online activities to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Once registered, Maya may claim input tax credits for the GST/HST she pays on her business purchases for her online taxable activities.


Saddaf is a 21-year-old online gamer who regularly plays football video games on streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube and regularly ranks among the top 30 players in North America. Although Saddaf became successful with online football very early after becoming a gamer, they quickly realized they needed to be better equipped to successfully compete and earn income. So they invested $4,000 in gaming computer equipment and signed up for fibre optic Internet. These expenses helped Saddaf improve their online gaming scores, which resulted in a significant increase in followers and subscriptions to Saddaf’s online channels.

Saddaf was pleased when they began earning good money and generating a profit from their game-streaming activities. They fully expect to increase these activities and their revenues in the coming years:

  • Twitch pays Saddaf 50% of each channel subscription. During the year, Saddaf received $4,000 from these subscriptions.
  • A specially formatted link on Saddaf's Twitch page directs Twitch’s users to buy a beer mug in the shape of a football. Saddaf receives a percentage of these sales, which amounted to $1,500 for the year.
  • Saddaf often receives donations from followers when competing in football video games. For example, they made $1,000 from their share of the bits (a virtual good) received from Twitch in the year and $400 that fans sent to Saddaf’s PayPal account.
  • In the fall, in recognition of Saddaf’s extensive skill and talent, an online professional gaming host operating out of Toronto offered Saddaf a contract. The terms of the contract offered various monetary prizes for professional players with the top scores. Realizing this was a good opportunity to increase their business’s exposure, Saddaf competed in a tournament and won the top prize of $50,000.
  • The exposure from this tournament led to a lot of additional interest from sporting companies. They bought pictures of Saddaf from Twitch for their advertising campaigns. Twitch paid Saddaf $5,000 for the sale of these pictures to the sporting companies.
  • On the YouTube channel, Saddaf made money through ads that appear in tutorial videos on how to play video games. They earned $1,100 during the year from these ads.
  • A prominent football equipment company gave Saddaf free sporting goods valued at $900 in recognition of their talent and skills.

Income tax implications

Saddaf has to report all the income earned from online commercial activities. Saddaf’s income tax and benefit return must include:

  • $4,000 in subscription fees
  • $1,500 in commissions from beer mug sales
  • $1,000 in bits from Twitch
  • $400 in donations transferred by their fans to their PayPal account
  • $50,000 from the football tournament
  • $5,000 for the sale of their pictures to sporting companies
  • $1,100 in ad revenues
  • $900 for the football equipment they received for free

Saddaf can claim all expenses they had for generating revenue from their online activities, such as:

  • capital cost allowance (depreciation) on the $4,000 computer equipment,
  • the non-personal part of the cost of the fibre optic Internet connection from their Internet service provider.

GST/HST implications

If Saddaf's online activities are not a personal endeavour and the total taxable supplies are more than $30,000 over four calendar quarters, Saddaf must register for, charge, collect, and remit (send) the GST/HST on their taxable sales to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Saddaf can get more details on GST/HST registration requirements at Find out if you have to register for a GST/HST account.

Once registered, Saddaf can claim input tax credits equal to the GST/HST paid on the purchases and expenses related to their taxable supplies.

Generally, Saddaf can only claim an input tax credit for GST/HST paid (or payable) on business expenses related to their business activities. A tax professional can advise Saddaf on their tax obligations.

Keep records of all your transactions

Keep track of your income and your expenses, including sales you make to buyers in Canada and other countries.

Depending on the extent of your participation in the platform economy, additional tax considerations may apply. For more information, refer to

General Information for GST/HST Registrants -

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