Thursday 8 December 2016

'Sharing economy' firms need not fear taxman, says Irish boss

Published 08/10/2015 | 02:30

Hassle.com co-founder Jules Coleman
Hassle.com co-founder Jules Coleman

On-demand internet services have little to fear from pro-active Revenue probes, according to the Irish boss of Europe's largest online cleaning company. As companies such as Airbnb and Uber face taxation and regulatory probes across the continent, companies like Hassle.com - which was acquired by German competitor Helpling for €30m earlier this year - are working "progessively" with tax authorities.

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"We've found the [UK tax authority] HMRC most interested in this," said Jules Coleman, co-founder of Hassle.com and chief product officer of Helpling. "They're actually progressive and working with us. We're represented on a body called Sharing Economy UK, which looks at ways that working is changing. HMRC is able to see and acknowledge that it's changing and make it easy for us."

Coleman says that Ireland's Revenue Commissioners are not yet as proactively involved.

"We have not had that much interaction to date [with the Irish Revenue]," she said. "But in the UK, by virtue of our involvement with other bodies, our strategy is clearly above board and is to work with whoever we need to."

Coleman said that companies such as Hassle.com are converting former black market activities into registered ones.

"We're taking what was black market activity and bringing it into the light," she said. "We're making it auditable and trackable."

Coleman's remarks come as the London-based company she co-founded marked a year's operation in Ireland. She said that Hassle.com, which allows people to book house cleaners online, has processed over 100,000 cleaning jobs in Dublin.

"The market has taken off for us in a really big way," said Coleman. "We have over 600 cleaners using Hassle in Dublin, a number which has far surpassed our expectations. Now we're launching an app bothin iOS and Android."

She said that while there is no "immediate roadmap" to expand into other Irish cities, the company's "medium term plans" would see it reaching other parts of Ireland.

However, the company Hassle was acquired by, Helpling.com, has had to announce that it is withdrawing from four global markets - Spain, Sweden, Canada and Brazil.

"It's not down to one single cause," Philipp Hinz, the global head of communications for Helpling.com, told IT Business Canada. "It's embedded in a review of our overall strategy. Some countries adopt new business models quicker than others. We have no liquidity problem. This decision is independent from the funding situation."

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