Angry men are threatening to report the social media accounts of sex workers to the IRS. As BuzzFeed News writes, the harassment against people (mostly women) who use subscription-only channels to sell explicit photos and video is being dubbed the #thotaudit.
It's unclear how many people are actually reporting others to the IRS, and who is simply trolling, but either way the attack seems to be fueled by a mix of misogyny and anti–sex work rhetoric. According to Motherboard, there is a substantial amount of personal information needed to report a person to the IRS, including a physical address, full legal name, date of birth, and taxpayer identification number.
"I'm not sure anyone's actually reporting anything," porn star Casey Calvert told BuzzFeed News. "You know, these are the dudes that get mad over a dick pic. Reporting fraud to the IRS actually takes effort. Even if they are reporting, I'm not sure the IRS would ever do anything."
In a climate where it is harder and more dangerous to explore typical avenues of sex work, many people now use personal accounts in order to make money. Self-generated income does need to be reported to the IRS, but that fact is being weaponized against sex workers. Instead of trying to inform their fellow citizens, misogynists are outing sex workers and exposing them to online harassment.
One man on YouTube claims the movement started on 4chan, and explained the motivations behind it: "These women are marching in the streets yet again saying, 'Sex work is real work' and protesting this. It's funny because when you say it's real work, then it should be taxed like every other work."
But sex work is not treated as real work, which is why sex workers turn to personal accounts and subscriptions to make money. This BS also operates under the assumption that sex workers don’t already file their taxes, when many of them do. “Had I known there were rules and regulations for premium snaps I would have willingly claimed taxes on it,” a woman who runs a Snapchat account told Motherboard. “But for the most part it’s untouched territory.”
In response to the trolls, some people are sending money to the exposed accounts in support.