Airbnb hosts being analysed by Revenue as they consider widespread audit crackdown
Tax authority considering 'compliance project' targeted at short-term letting
The Revenue Commissioners is carrying out an analysis of Airbnb hosts as it considers launching a widespread audit crackdown on the service.
The tax body may escalate its focus on 'short term accommodation' services following a letter campaign last year.
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The Sunday Independent has learned that Revenue told a meeting of accounting and legal representatives that it is carrying out an analysis of the results of the letter phase of its 'short-term accommodation' project with a view to making a decision on a compliance project. Such projects target a specific sector to root out underpayment of tax through audits and other measures.
The update on Revenue's Airbnb activity was made at an audit subcommittee of the Tax Administration Liaison Committee (TALC) earlier this year.
According to minutes from the meeting, the Institute of Taxation requested an update on the short-term accommodation project.
"Revenue informed the group that they are analysing the service for compliance stage. No decisions have been taken yet with regard to a follow-up compliance project," said the minutes. The analysis is currently ongoing, Revenue told the Sunday Independent.
Last year, Revenue issued letters to 12,000 taxpayers in a 'service for compliance' campaign relating to income from Airbnb.
These letters reminded taxpayers that this income is taxable and urged hosts to correct any tax returns where needed. "By doing this, you can avail of reduced penalties (if any are due), avoid having your name published in the list of tax defaulters and avoid possible prosecution," said the letters.
Revenue said that this phase of the campaign did not constitute a "compliance intervention".
However, income from short-term lettings such as Airbnb is now being closely examined by Revenue and is a focus of its compliance team, as indicated at the audit subcommittee meeting.
Airbnb had no comment on Revenue's statement. New regulations for short-term lettings come into effect in July.
One of Revenue's recent high profile compliance projects was into the gaming industry.
Revenue's recently published 2018 Annual report said: "Our national compliance project on the gaming and amusement machine sector continued throughout the year. We carried out site visits at 285 separate premises nationwide, seizing 158 unlicensed gaming machines."
Sunday Indo Business