Airbnb refused to provide the Greek Finance Ministry with information on property rentals thus delaying the launch of an online platform where owners should register the rental transactions and pay the necessary taxes.
According to information obtained by economic news website economy365.gr, the Finance Ministry has tried for five months to get in touch with executives of the company in California as well as of other companies (Novasol etc). However, the companies showed no intention to cooperate with Greek authorities who has requested that the tax number of property owner is being registered to every property at the Airbnb platform.
Owner’s tax number would facilitate the imposition of taxes on rentals via Airbnb.
The tax legislation on short-term leases through digital platform like Airbnb was voted last year. The law foresees taxes of 15%-45% and a limited number of rentals per year.
Registration is mandatory. Authorities will provide the property owner with a certification number that has to be declared on any website and social media advert, including, of course, the Airbnb platform.
Fines can reach up to 5,000 euros, if a property owner does not register on the Greek authorities registration platform and tries to evade taxes from short-term rentals.
The state has estimated that revenues from Airbnb rentals could reach 48 million euros per year.
Tricks to bypass Airbnb and Taxes
According to the Finance Ministry property owners try to bypass the 3% commission to Airbnb and upcoming taxes by direct contact to customers via messenger or telephone. The payments are done cash at the arrival and not through the platform. In this way, property owners can bypass not only the commission but also registration of the rentals and future taxes. Just in case and even if one day, the Airbnb decides to hand over its Greek data to the tax authorities.
For the time being it looks as the Greek goal to tax Airbnb properties has to be postponed….
Side effect: high prices for long-term rentals
A side effect of Airbnb is the increase of prices for apartments to rent in urban areas. There are reportedly whole buildings that have been transformed into short-term rentals with the effect that leasees hardly can find a long-term rental.
Finding an apartment to rent in downtown Athens especially in areas surrounding the Acropolis, like Koukaki, Filopappou, Petralona, Makrygianni – or even Exarcheia has become a rarity. And when one finds an space to rent, prices are high and apartments quality is low.
PS I suppose, Airbn cannot make exceptions on its policy just to satisfy the Greeks, can it? The Greek state should work out other means on how to persuade these property owners to register and pay taxes. Some of these means could be:restoring confidence to the state, bring down over-taxation, restore health services, bring back salaries and pensions to pre-crisis level. OK. #justkidding.