ATO’s warning to Aussies making quick cash from sexy photos
Australians making big bucks through selling racy images and videos online have been warned of hefty penalties if they do not report their earnings.
The Australian Taxation Office said people faced "firm action" if they were operating in the "black economy" and deliberately under-reporting their income.
It comes after News Corp revealed thousands of wannabe internet stars were following in the footsteps of high profile celebrities and had turned to subscription-based social media sites to sell raunchy content.
More than 200,00 Australians had joined one such platform, OnlyFans, this year alone, with more than 5000 of them registering as content creators.
OnlyFans estimates there is a 60/40 split of adult to non-adult creators, with some claiming to make thousands of dollars each month through the site.
"The tax implications of earning money from content creation for subscription-based media platforms is the same as for anyone," an ATO spokesperson told News Corp.
"Whether you are undertaking a business or just earning additional income through a digital platform (such as a website or an app) this income needs to be included in your tax return."
The ATO said it had "sophisticated data-matching and analytical tools" to help identify people who were deliberately avoiding the appropriate amount of tax.
"Where we identify people that have made a genuine mistake we will support them in understanding the law and get them back on track," the spokespersons said.
"Firm action including the application of penalties may apply where people are operating in the black economy by deliberately under-reporting their income."
OnlyFans takes a 20 per cent cut of content creators' earnings, who also have to reach a minimum of $US500 ($780) before they can withdraw the cash.
But the earning potential via the social media platform is significant.
NSW tradie Allyson Lowrie, who charges a $30 monthly subscription fee for access to her OnlyFans page, told News Corp she had made $18,000 through the platform in just two months.
Australian model Jem Wolfie told Perth Now last year she could earn up to $30,000 a day through OnlyFans, while former Married At First Sight contestant Jessika Power's brother Rhyce reportedly made $50,000 in just one month.
Former Bachelorette contestant Paddy Colliar had also recently turned to the website after losing his job as a personal trainer amid the COVID-19 lockdown, and hoped to make $2000 a month through selling content on OnlyFans.
News Corp is not suggesting that Ms Lowrie, Ms Wolfie, Mr Power or Mr Colliar have not met their tax reporting obligations.
The warning from the ATO comes after another from Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who said the commission had heard of cases linked to services like OnlyFans where their content had been hacked.
"Whether they do it for money or with a more frisky rationale in mind, Australians who share explicit images on the internet can place themselves at risk of wider circulation of those images across the internet," she said.
Originally published as ATO's warning to Aussies making racy quick cash