Revenue targets 12,000 Airbnb hosts in tax clampdown

Tax authority wants voluntary disclosure after getting details from accommodation site

Airbnb has provided tax authorities with details of residents in the Republic who have used its site to let rooms, apartments or houses to tourists and other visitors. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Airbnb has provided tax authorities with details of residents in the Republic who have used its site to let rooms, apartments or houses to tourists and other visitors. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Revenue is writing to about 12,000 Airbnb hosts warning them that they are liable to pay tax on cash earned from letting their properties to visitors.

Airbnb has provided tax authorities with details of residents in the Republic who have used its site to let rooms, apartments or houses to tourists and other visitors.

Revenue confirmed that it has begun writing to 12,000 hosts pointing out that it has received the information from the multinational accommodation-sharing website.

“We would like to remind you of your obligation to tell Revenue about this income,” the letter states.

Revenue adds that if the recipient has made a “correct and complete” tax return, they need take no further action.

However, it warns that, if the person has earned income from Airbnb and not told the Revenue, or submitted an incorrect tax return, “you will need to correct your tax affairs.”

Let space

Revenue’s statement confirmed that Airbnb provided it with details of people who let space to visitors during 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“It is standard Revenue practice to constantly monitor new and emerging risk,” the tax authorities’ statement says. “Revenue is alert to the risks posed by online business in all its forms, including the provision of short-term accommodation.”

The statement adds that Revenue supports voluntary compliance by providing a service that makes it easy for taxpayers to meet their obligations.

“To maximise the compliance among recipients of income from the provision of short-term accommodation, Revenue will also carry out a range of follow-up compliance checks to ensure that returns are filed and are correct,” the statement warned.

The letters sent to taxpayers indicate that anyone who has not declared income from Airbnb lets yet and has not included it in a tax return can avail of a “qualifying disclosure”. This is a system that allows taxpayers who have not given full details of their income to Revenue to come forward voluntarily.

Defaulters

If they do this, any settlement they make will not be published in the quarterly list of defaulters, that is, a record of the tax, interest and penalties paid by non-compliant taxpayers caught during Revenue investigations. They can also avail of reduced penalties.

Controversy blew up around Airbnb hosts’ tax liabilities several years ago when it emerged that they did not qualify for the “rent-a-room”, a tax break available to homeowners who let rooms in their properties.

The multinational, whose European headquarters is in Dublin, provides details of hosts to tax authorities in countries where it operates. It has also advised clients to comply with their tax obligations.