Affiliate marketing can be anything from a side hustle to a fully-fledged, potentially lucrative career. With the right approach, there is a lot of money to be made, but there are serious legal and tax considerations for affiliate marketers to think about.
The last thing you want is to be operating in breach of the law. If you are, you could face serious legal or financial penalties and your business could be severely impacted, if not closed down completely. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most important legal and tax considerations for affiliate marketers.
Paying Tax as an Affiliate Marketer
First and foremost, let’s discuss paying taxes as an affiliate marketer.
One of the benefits that draws people to an affiliate marketing career is being able to work for yourself and be your own boss. In theory, you can set your own hours and schedules and will be free to shape your role as you see fit. However, this means you are also responsible for managing and paying your own taxes.
If you’re in the UK, first you’ll have to register as self-employed with HMRC, or as a limited company with Companies House. If you are earning over £12,570 per year from your affiliate marketing business, you will be required to pay tax on this income and make National Insurance contributions.
We can’t have a discussion about legal and tax considerations for affiliate marketers without talking about advertising standards. These standards are set by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US.
One of the most important legal requirements that all affiliate marketers must be aware of concerns disclosures. According to standards set out by the ASA and the FTC, affiliate marketers must clearly disclose the fact that they are promoting affiliate links to customers.
Let’s say you have written a blog post that contains affiliate links. It is absolutely critical that you clearly disclose the inclusion of these links, or you could be in breach of ASA and FTC regulations and face potentially hefty fines.
Data privacy is an increasingly salient topic in today’s digital landscape. A study revealed that 90% of people agree that digital privacy is important, with 81% reporting that they wish to know more about how their data is used.
As an affiliate marketer, collecting and analysing user data will be an enormous part of what you do. However, this means it’s essential you are aware of data privacy laws and regulations.
In Europe, data privacy is governed by GDPR, the UK has The Data Protection Act and in the US, there is the CCPA. There are important differences between these regulatory frameworks, but they all put digital privacy and data security front and centre.
Affiliate marketing is a global industry, and you could find yourself having to contend with all three of these regulatory structures as you promote products to and from all over the world. The most important thing to keep in mind is consent; users must give you express permission to collect and use their data.
Failure to adhere to data privacy regulations can have serious consequences. You only need to look at Meta, which was fined over $400 million for breaching GDPR rules, as an example.
Keeping your affiliate business in check and in accordance with the latest laws and regulations can be time-consuming and complex. However, doing so is absolutely critical to avoid facing legal and financial penalties.