It’s been revealed that Airbnb - the online informal lettings service which can be used to by-pass letting agents - passes details of its advertisers to tax authorities in two countries.
This happens in the Republic of Ireland and in the US and although Airbnb says it has no plans to voluntarily do the same in the UK, it is known that the Westminster government wants to crack down on what it calls “the hidden economy” of people informally earning without necessarily declaring to HMRC.
The Daily Mail reports that the Airbnb service, which claims to have 1.5m listings worldwide, is now giving information about users' earning to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland, claiming that it has a legal duty to do so.
The Mail’s website quotes an Airbnb spokesperson as saying: “We have informed hosts about the legal requirement for Airbnb Ireland to report host earnings to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. This is a legal requirement for Airbnb Ireland - similar to our obligation to report host earnings in the US.”
Most Airbnb hosts in the UK are likely to fall below any tax-due threshold.
The Rent A Room allowance permits owners who take in lodgers need not pay tax on their first £4,250 of income - last month’s Budget included an announcement that this will increase to £7,500 from next year.
But professional and semi-professional landlords and holiday let owners, who may well get in excess of £7,500 income by letting through Airbnb, would be eligible for tax on their letting income.
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