BUSINESS

Cross-checking Airbnb takings

PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU, NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

TAGS: Property, Taxation

The Greek tax mechanism has planned random checks with the aim of identifying taxpayers with revenues from short-term property rentals through online platforms. Due its current inability to cross-check the data, the tax officers will go undercover posing as guest-clients in a bid to establish whether revenues are declared.

At this stage the inspections are relying on the money deposited through websites such as Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway etc. Once the online platform of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue is activated, it will check whether the amounts that ought to be declared are compatible with the deposits. In cases of discrepancies fines can reach up to 5,000 euros. All contracts signed after January 1, 2018 will have to be declared.

According to Deputy Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou, the platform of the Short Stay Property Register will open in the next few days for the submission of data. Owners will have to declare “all revenues from rental contracts signed until that moment, and from then on the process will be conducted as provided,” she said. Therefore anyone who rents out property through Airbnb or other platforms must declare their revenues in full.

“We will be able to find them through cross-checking,” Papanatsiou said, noting that “we are cooperating with three major digital platforms and can obtain the data. We can now locate all this and those who do not declare it should beware.”

However, it must be noted that platforms such as Airbnb have in the past refused to submit more data to the Greek state than that which was already uploaded on the Internet, citing agreements signed with clients regarding confidentiality and privacy. After all, any tax evasion must be proven by the tax administration and not the platforms.

Meanwhile, the European Commission on Monday threatened Airbnb with restrictions unless it proceeds with a series of changes to its terms of operation. Brussels says Airbnb deprives consumers of basic rights such as referring hosts to justice should they suffer an injury on the property.

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