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Thousands of Airbnb hosts to face retroactive tax bills from Revenue

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Airbnb said they are now legally obliged to report host earnings to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners
Airbnb said they are now legally obliged to report host earnings to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners

Airbnb, the online renting firm, has told its Irish property owners that they are obliged to notify Revenue of their earnings.

Thousands of Irish people who use the website are set to be hit with retroactive tax bills from 2014. 

In an email sent to the thousands of families and other homeowners, Airbnb said they are now legally obliged to report host earnings to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

"We have informed hosts about the legal requirement for Airbnb Ireland to report host earnings to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners," it said.

"This is a legal requirement for Airbnb Ireland, similar to our obligation to report host earnings in the US.

"We will be filing our return in September and wanted to give our community enough notice so we can address any questions they may have."

The hugely popular website 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 renters can sometimes acquire a property or part of a property for several weeks. 

Revenue had earlier this year published information on its rent-a-room scheme which allows homeowners and families to earn up to €12,000 a year tax free. 

However, under the terms of the guidelines rentals from Airbnb didn't fall within the terms of the relief. 

"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."

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.

The company said it is now in the process of supplying Revenue with the names of thousands of affected users as well as the address of the properties or rooms listed on its website.

In addition, it will also report amounts paid out from May 1st, 2014 to December 31st, 2014 including cleaning fees.