Misogyny behind viral #ThotAudit campaign
Misogynist “men’s rights” activists and involuntary celibate (incel) circles are harassing sex workers online. Sex workers are already in a stigmatized group that is a highly controversial and dangerous profession. People on social media are creating a harassment campaign targeted at sex workers, which has unfortunately gone viral and has become just another obstacle sex workers have to face.
Webcam girls, among other sex workers, are being threatened to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. This has started a viral campaign on Twitter called #ThotAudit. The term “thot” stands for “that hoe over there.” This hashtag has been retweeted more than 20,000 times, according to The New York Post.
In this campaign, trolls are sending follow requests to the sex workers’ paid platforms, like Snapchat, where these anti-sex worker activists then threaten to use the IRS official whistleblower program to report them for tax fraud. By submitting a whistleblower claim, the IRS can award the whistleblower up to 30 percent of the additional tax, penalty and other amounts it collects, according to the IRS website.
“If you report a thot to the IRS and they collect taxes from her, you can receive up to 30% of that amount. There is actually a financial incentive to defeating thottery,” tweeted Roosh.
However, to report someone through the whistleblower program, a lot of personal information is needed. The address of the sex worker, legal full name, date of birth and taxpayer identification number is required, according to the IRS website of the program. Julie Roin, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, informed The Daily Beast that failing to report any income over $400 annually to the IRS is a violation of tax law.
There is this ignorance to this campaign where these online users don’t know that sex workers actually do pay taxes, just like any other independent contractor. Sites like Patreon issue 1099 IRS forms that are quite frequently filed by sex workers, according to Buzzfeed.
In this technological era, sex workers don’t make as much as people expect.
Making roughly between $20,000 and $30,000 is considered low income. This low amount that sex workers are being paid is largely due to the pirating of their videos and the widely available pornography online, according to The Conversation. This has made sex workers turn to personalized content, such as subscription-only media accounts, to earn a living among the free online porn available online.
“Most sex workers tend not to earn enough to catch the notice of the IRS. With their limited staff resources, the IRS tends to go after larger operators,” said Christopher Kirk, an attorney who helps sex workers through the tax preparation and audit defense process.
Although it has not been confirmed if people are actually reporting sex workers to the IRS, there is still a threat present. Sex workers are now being targeted and are concerned of an increase in violence against sex workers by the far right, according to Rolling Stone.
Bringing awareness to this #ThotAudit helps give sex workers a heads up to see what they can do in this situation. Kirk offers sex workers a solution to protect themselves: they should file taxes, reporting their income as accurately as possible. He also shares that sex workers should keep receipts for any business expenses, which will offer a paper trail if they do get audited.