Friday 28 October 2016

Airbnb to consider legal challenge to Revenue demands

Last night's Airbnb meeting
Last night's Airbnb meeting

ANGRY Airbnb hosts have vented their frustration with the online room-booking company after it said it would hand over homeowners’ details to the Revenue Commissioners.

The company said that they may take a legal challenge against a Revenue decision that states homeowners letting out rooms through the website on a short-term basis are not eligible to earn up to €12,000 tax-free under the rent-a-room scheme.

However, they have also stated that all earnings people make through the site must be classed as a taxable income.

The website is used for the short-term letting of rooms or houses by tourists.

Airbnb head of global consumer experience Aisling Hassell said that the company was required to report their user’s incomes through the site to Revenue next month.

READ MORE: Airbnb renters must provide all details of how much they earned, claims says Tourism minister

This means that homeowners using the site to supplement their incomes will have until October to get their finances in order.

“We will be actively working with our community to see how we can work on their behalf with the Revenue and the Government before the next budget,” said Ms Hassell.

READ MORE: Airbnb tells Irish renters it will report earnings to Revenue

“It is challengeable in court,  but we will have to see what the next steps are,” she said in relation to the declaration that Airbnb hosts not being covered by the rent-a-room scheme.

“Our host income has always been taxable income and we have always made that very clear to our hosts. That is not new.


“What is new is our reporting requirement and we have been seeking clarification from Revenue for the past couple of months.”

The company met with 200 service users last night in an attempt to allay concerns.

However, many left the meeting angry.

One man travelled from Cork, but was told he could not enter because he had not responded to an invitation on time.

He was advised he could attend the next meeting, that has yet to be organised.

“I have a mortgage of more than €300,000, but lost my job last year so have been using my house to earn some extra money to pay the bank,” he said.

“My social welfare is under threat now too as my Airbnb money is considered a taxable income and apparently it does not count under the rent-a-room scheme,” he added.

Others attending the meeting said that they were concerned that the company was sharing personal information without their permission and said that they have been hung out to dry .

Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe has insisted homeowners using the online booking site must provide “absolute clarity” on how much income they earn from renting rooms to tourists.

“It is important because there needs to be a level playing field between the type of accommodation Airbnb provides versus other forms of accommodation that are available to tourists coming to our country,” he said.

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