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Impact of GST on Bloggers and YouTubers

These days we come across many discussions and debates on various Forums and Blogs regarding impact of GST on Adsense Income and Blogging as a whole. There is lot of confusion among Bloggers and Chartered Accountants in India on whether GST is applicable on Blogs and Content providing websites and whether Bloggers should register themselves in the GST system and get GSTIN number.

I wish to clarify on as many questions as possible so that queries of most of the Bloggers if not all get covered in this article.

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by Google Adsense Publishers and Bloggers:

  • Is GST applicable on Adsense Income ? If yes, what is the GST rate that a Publisher has to pay?

Yes. GST is applicable on Adsense Income and it falls under 18% rate category.

  • Should a Blogger pay GST on Advertisements displayed from Adsense /Media.net or any Affiliate Income?

A Blogger or Publisher is exempted from paying GST on Adsense/ Media.net advertisements income or affiliate income from overseas companies as they fall under export of services and hence are exempted from GST. However, GST is only exempted on Export of services (Services provided to Companies located overseas i.e Outside India ) and a Blogger should prove that he/she received the payment from these companies through Inward Remittance in his/her Bank account.

If a Blogger or a Content Publisher sells Ad space to an Indian company or an Individual, he has to charge them and pay 18% GST to the government. This is also applicable to affiliate revenue or income earned from Indian companies.

  • Is GST applicable on Readers and Ad viewers/ Ad Clickers of the Blog ? If Yes, how to collect them from the readers as a Blogger does not know who their reader is ?

A Reader or Ad viewer/Ad clicker is not the client of the Blog and hence GST is not applicable on reading or viewing ads on blog. Bloggers technically sell Ad spaces to Google and hence it is termed as a service. Google is the customer or client of the Blogger.

Note: Even if one argues that reading Blog articles can be termed as digital service/Data retrieval service and GST is applicable, most of the bloggers offer content to read for Free and hence service if offered for free cannot be taxed. However, If a Blogger offers any Paid Subscription to any Individual or Company in India, he has to charge 18% GST and pay it to the government.

  • Is it necessary for a Blogger to register himself in GST system and get GSTIN? Is it still necessary if a Blogger’s turnover is below 20 lakhs or 10 lakhs per year?

Yes. It is necessary for each and every Blogger to get a GSTIN Number. Though, he is not required to pay any Tax in GST on payments received from Google Adsense or any advertisement company located Overseas, he has to get a GSTIN number.The waver or exemption for Businesses having turnover less than 20 lakhs per year is only applicable if the sale of Goods or Services is been carried out in the same state. i.e Supply and Purchase of Goods/Services takes place locally. For sale of Goods or Services  in other states i.e Inter-State Business or Export of Goods or Services,  GST registration is mandatory.

Bloggers sell their Ad spaces to Google Adsense /Media.net which are located overseas and hence it comes under export of services.

Note: Bloggers are exempted from paying 18% GST to the government. They have to register themselves under GST system and get GSTIN number. Also, they need to provide all necessary details for their payments received from Google in their respective GST portals.

  • I am an Individual Blogger and do not have any Business. Will I have to get GSTIN number? I am also employed in some company and do not have any registered Firm/Company.

Technically, selling Ad space is a business and hence you have to get enrolled into GST system. You need not have to mention any Trade Name if you are Sole Proprietor in the GST registration process. No documents like letter of Registration or Certificate is asked for Sole Proprietors.

  • Only Adsense Accounts listed under Business category i.e “Business Account” need GSTIN number. Individuals are exempted. Why should I get registered under GST? It is only applicable to B2B and not B2C.

This information is factually incorrect. There is nothing like GST is only applicable to B2B Or B2C. Its either applicable or exempted and if applicable, what is the tax rate ?

Google has stated that it is mandatory for Account type mentioned as “Business Account” to provide GSTIN number and is optional for Account types tagged as “Individual”. This has nothing to do with GST laws and provisions under it in India.

  • Bloggers do not raise any Invoice to Google Adsense. How will they mention Invoice numbers and Invoice Amount in the GST portal ?

Bloggers practically do not raise invoice to Google but technically they do raise invoices. In this case, Bloggers can Raise a Credit Note in GST portal and enter the necessary details of the payment received from Google Adsense.

  • What about YouTubers? They don’t sell any space on their website to Google and only use YouTube’s platform to earn revenue. Do they have to register themselves in GST?

Yes. They also need to get registered themselves in GST. YouTubers have their own content to monetize and hence they sell Ad space on their Channels, Videos and also get paid for Video ADs in their content.

  • What if I provide services such as sponsored articles/SEO/WEB development / WordPress theme development / Plugin Development/ Site migration etc?

If you sell any of these services to Indian companies or Individuals located in India, you have to charge your clients 18% GST and collect it from them and finally pay GST to the government.

  • What if I blog as a hobby and do not show any advertisement and do not earn a single penny from affiliate marketing? In fact I do not earn a single penny from my blog or Website. Should I still have to get registered in GST and require a GSTIN number?

No. You simply post good articles for your readers on your blog and be happy as a Hobby Blogger. These is absolutely no need to get a GSTIN number.

Note: Bloggers or Content Publishers should consult their respective CAs as Business and Revenue model of each individual Blogger varies a lot. Taxes, its applicable rates etc differs from Person to Person and should be addressed on case-to-case basis.

The above article is for information only. Accuracy of the information is not guaranteed

If you have any questions on this, feel free to ask it on VentureDawn’s Community Forum or through comments here.

About the author

Vineet Suratran

Vineet Suratran is Founder and Editor-In-Chief at venturedawn.com. He is an Electronics & Telecommunications Engineer by profession and blogger by passion.

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