If you’re an Airbnb host in Australia, you had better get your affairs in ship-shape: the Australian Taxation Office will be closely scrutinising your hosting activity.
The short-term rental platform sent an email to Airbnb hosts on Thursday to let them know that the company would be “legally required to share certain information with governmental authorities” as part of the tax man’s “data matching program”.
“Airbnb is under legal notice by the Australian Taxation Office to share information concerning your hosting activity for the period from 1 January to 30 June, 2019,” the email stated as reported by The Australian.
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There are well over 100,000 Airbnb listings in Australia, with 80 per cent of them owner-occupied residences.
The ATO will be looking at hosts’ income per listing, listing dates, enquiry and booking rates, prices charged or quoted a night, and other booking information between the 2016-17 and 2019-20 financial years.
ATO to ‘data-match’ Australians
An ATO spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that the information of roughly 190,000 Australians pulled from online platform sharing sites will be examined “to identify taxpayers who have left out rental income and over-claimed deductions”.
“We believe that some people using sharing economy platforms are failing to report their income, either on purpose or because they assume their level of activity constitutes a hobby and doesn’t require reporting,” the ATO said at the time.
“Our focus is to ensure that people renting a room, their home while they’re away or an investment property through web or app based platforms in the sharing economy understand their obligations.”
The rise of platforms like Airbnb means more people potentially misunderstanding their tax obligations when renting out their property.
“The ATO will match the data provided by the rental platforms against ATO records to identify individuals who rent property on a short term basis but may not be meeting their registration, reporting, lodgement and/or payment obligations.”
‘We remain supportive of implementing a data sharing framework’: Airbnb
In a statement to Yahoo Finance, Airbnb Asia-Pacific director of public policy Brent Thomas was generally supportive of the data-sharing framework and said “our system doesn’t always make it easy for people to meet those [tax] obligations”.
“As it stands, our challenging and difficult-to-navigate tax system can act as a barrier to ordinary Australians using their homes to supplement their income,” he said.
“Airbnb is committed to making it as easy as possible for our hosts to pay their taxes, along with making it easier for the ATO to do their job.
“As the current rules were written before the sharing economy existed, developing a holistic, light-touch, mandatory data sharing framework is critical for everyone in the sharing economy.
“We also remain supportive of implementing a data sharing framework that not only takes data privacy laws into account, but makes it easier and cheaper for Australians to pay their taxes across all sharing economy platforms.”
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