The controversial debate around the flight of ‘youtubers’ to Andorra to pay less taxes does not stop, even less a few days after the paradigmatic El Rubius –with 50 million subscribers only on YouTube– packed his bags after spending ten years paying taxes in Spain. Rubén Doblas – real name – came to feel “puteado” by the Treasury: “They have been treating me like a criminal since day one.” A decision that reopened the eternal debate on the payment of taxes and revived the list of the so-called ‘creators of contents’ emancipated to the neighboring country.
Low taxes turn Andorra into a ‘youtuber’ paradise
One of the most famous names among migrants, due to its popularity, is the Murcian TheGrefg –Alhama de Murcia, 1997–, who jumped into the media two weeks ago after pulverizing the audience figures worldwide on the streaming platform ‘- live broadcasts – called Twitch, which is owned by Amazon. David Cánovas – real name – reached 2.5 million people simultaneously on his channel. It was a live highly anticipated by its followers: after a year of waiting, the online video game ‘Fortnite’ – with 350 million players in May 2020, according to specialized media – brought to light a personalized avatar of TheGrefg. “This is my house,” he tweeted on Twitch hours after breaking the record.
Although Cánovas is testing the honeys of success on this platform, who saw him born was YouTube. At the age of 15, the Murcian dropped out of school and introduced himself as TheGrefg playing ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’, belonging to a saga of ‘shooter’ videogames –of shooting– in the first person, with which he would reap his success a year later, reaching half a million views: figures that during the early 2010s were reserved for the most popular content creators. After four years on the platform, in 2016 the ‘youtuber’ became a benchmark in the gameplays –recorded matches– of ‘Clash Royale’, an online strategy video game for mobile phones launched that same year.
Little by little he began to migrate to Twitch, where he already accumulates 6.5 million followers. On this platform he was “bald in front of many people”, as he himself relates. In January 2020, he shaved before half a million spectators for the Little Wish Foundation, for which he would raise $ 30,000 by auctioning his hair to the well-known youtuber Fernanfloo.
Discreet departure to Andorra
David Cánovas makes a controversial decision that some ‘content creators’ would follow later. In a discreet way, the ‘youtuber’ decides to move to Andorra in 2018. “I would love to set an example by paying my taxes in my country, but I have to look out for myself,” he said in an interview for El Mundo. “We do not know how long this YouTube will last, and if I can save all the money I can during these years, then better than better,” said TheGrefg.
What the ‘youtubers’ or ‘streamers’ earn is a mystery, since they are usually registered as freelancers and there is no public data. But unofficial estimates say that El Rubius earns more than four million euros a year. While the Personal Income Tax in Spain works under a system of tranches and can amount up to 47 percent, in the neighboring principality there is a single rate of 10 percent for all types of income. “It’s all legal, Andorra is not a tax haven,” Cánovas pointed out in the interview, which sent a message to politicians: “If you raise taxes so that rich people pay more, these people will do whatever it takes to pay them abroad.” .
Other content creators have been in favor of paying taxes in Spain. Recently the ‘streamer’ and ‘caster’ –eSports commentator– Ibai Llanos published a plea in social networks in favor of paying taxes within our borders: “It is normal that people who earn a lot of money are taken away a lot of money, and less would have to be taken from those who earn 1,500 or 2,000 euros. My whole family is in that situation Except for my grandfather, who is the one who brought the real pasta to my house, but my aunt is a clerk, my mother takes care of the elderly and cleans houses and I hope they would take less taxes from those people. ”