French hoteliers lodge complaint against Airbnb

AhTop calls for tax investigation into Silicon Valley group and 100 other digital platforms

A leading French hoteliers association has lodged a formal complaint against Airbnb and other online accommodation-rental services, arguing that they compete unfairly in the country.

AhTop, which represents about 30,000 hotel companies and syndicates, said on Thursday that it had asked authorities to examine whether the Silicon Valley group and more than 100 other digital platforms were paying appropriate taxes.

It said it had lodged the complaint with the Paris prosecutor’s office in November and that it expected a decision on whether to open a formal case “in the next few weeks”. It also said a division of the finance ministry was investigating the complaint.

Airbnb, which has its European headquarters in Dublin, said it had not been notified by French authorities but added: “It is disappointing – but not surprising – to see hotels attack new forms of travel that put euros in the pockets of local residents and support small businesses outside hotel districts.”


It added that hotels were using “false claims and misleading information to lead smear campaigns against” it.

AhTop's complaint comes as European authorities attempt to crack down on the use of complex tax-avoidance schemes by US and other multinational companies to shift profits abroad in order to declare them in lower-tax jurisdictions. France has led the charge, including raids on Google and Microsoft.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016