Airbnb users face retrospective tax bills as data handed to Revenue

Airbnb users face retrospective tax bills as data handed to Revenue

Airbnb will hold a meeting with its Irish hosts today, to address concerns over data it has already handed over to the Revenue Commissioners.

Airbnb has been emailing its users here in recent weeks, warning them it has been required to provide certain information to the Revenue Commissioners.

It is releasing details of all rental income earned by Irish hosts gained from sharing rooms in properties both in, and outside of Ireland.

Revenue says these rentals do not qualify for the Rent a Room scheme - which allows for a certain level of income from rentals to be tax free.

It means those hosts are now facing the prospect of retrospective tax bills dating back to May of 2014.

Airbnb hosts whose income is above €33,800 could be hit tax bills of 40% on earnings made through bookings on the site.

The company will hold a public meeting at its headquarters in Dublin this evening, where there will be a presentation and Q&A session.

Fiona O'Shea, former principal officer with Revenue, said that the legislation is unclear and the Revenue's demand may be open to legal challenges.

"What we're looking at here is a sort of the Revenue interpretation of the legislation, and the way that the Revenue are administrating the legislation is to say that it will only apply to long-term accommodation, where you rent out a room," she said.

"But in fact, as I say, the legislation does not necessarily say that, and it certainly would be open to challenge."

She added that any tax liabilities will depend on how often people rent out their homes.

"The bills will vary according to the extent to which people are actually engaging in the Airbnb activities," she said.

"I understand that some people might rent a room out very occasionally, maybe once a week, once a month, something like that, in which case, if there is a tax liability, it would be quite low, but it can range right across the board to renting out entire houses."

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