Families to get tax bills for Airbnb earnings
Families who have supplemented their income by renting out rooms in their homes on the popular website Airbnb are to be hit with unexpected tax bills.
The company is to hand over details of their clients to the Revenue Commissioners, who will seek income tax payments dating back to May 2014.
In an email to thousands of customers, Airbnb said they are now legally obliged to tell the taxman about income earned by Irish homeowners from property in Ireland and abroad.
Non-Irish residents who rent out space in this country are also to be targeted.
Airbnb is a website which allows people to put all or part of their property up for short-term let. The space is often rented for as little as a night, but can be for up to several weeks.
There are currently more than 9,000 listings in Ireland, with many families using it as an easy way to earn some income while they take their own holidays.
It operates in more than 190 countries, but has its European headquarters in Dublin, where a meeting for concerned users will be held this evening.
In reply to queries from the Irish Independent a spokesperson said that they always advised people who rented space in their home to "follow all local rules, including tax rules".
However, for the first time they will assist Revenue in a clampdown by handing over customers' information.
In a statement, the company said they have been "working with Revenue Commissioners" for months and as a result they have concluded that there is a legal requirement "to report earnings" of individual users.
The Revenue Commissioners last night said they are aware that a number of Irish people use the website and that any income "derived from such activity is subject to tax".
They said the rent-a-room relief scheme, which allows people to earn up to €12,000 tax free, only applies to rooms rented on a long-term basis as a more permanent home.
"Income from the provision of accommodation to occasional visitors for short periods would not qualify for rent-a-room relief as the visitors use the accommodation as guest accommodation rather than residential purposes," Revenue said.
"It's important to point out that the provision of short-term lettings in itself is not evidence of tax evasion. There's no issue where the income is declared to Revenue and any tax due is paid."