AIRBNB – Legislation and tax transparency
- Demi Felouka, Partner
What is Airbnb? It is the acronym of the original name Air Bed and Breakfast, an online platform that brings together the host and the customer-interested party for a short-term lease of property, which varies both in terms of the price range as well as the location of the lodging.
The same platform handles the booking process as well as the payment of the fee, while the earnings of the company that operates the platform come from the percentage to which it is entitled from each booking fee.
Airbnb is only one, the most known in Greece, of the many, similar online platforms operating on a global scale.
How is a short-term lease defined? As short term is defined a lease of property concluded through digital platforms for a specified duration which does not exceed one year.
What is the notion of property in the abovementioned short-term lease? As property is defined: the apartment, the detached house, with the exception of detached houses which have been characterized as such by the annulment of the establishment of horizontal property, any other form of dwelling with structural and functional autonomy, rooms within apartments or detached houses. The property may be a single space or be leased in parts.
What is the notion of a property manager? As manager of a short-term lease property is defined, any natural or legal person or any legal entity that undertakes the process of posting a property on digital platforms for the purpose of short-term leasing; and generally the one that makes any arrangements for the short-term leasing of the property.
The property manager may be either the owner of the property or a possessor or a usufructuary or a sub-tenant or a third party thereof.
What are the conditions for the short-term lease of property through digital platforms? (a) the property manager must be registered in the “Short Term Residence Property Registry” of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (AADE), unless it possesses an Authorized License. This registration must have been made separately for each leased property by entering the data (co-beneficiaries of income, percentages etc.) necessary for the determination of the annual income per beneficiary; b) the registration number in the above Registry must accompany the posting of the property on digital platforms, at a space clearly seen, as well as in every marketing action and material, unless the property managers have an Authorized License, in which case, instead of the said registration number, the display of the number of the Authorized License is sufficient.
Who is obliged to submit a Statement of Short Term Residence and under what procedure? This procedure is done online at www.aade.gr by the Property Manager, using his personal TAXISnet passwords. The statements, initial or amendments, shall be submitted by 12:00 a.m. of the next working day after the day of departure of the tenant from the property.
In case of annulment of the short-term lease and where the annulment policy provides for the payment of a rent fee by the tenant, the original statement shall be submitted by 12:00 a.m. of the next working day after the annulment.
What is the minimum necessary content of the Short Term Residence Statement? The minimum necessary short-term lease particulars are the following: a) the registration number in the Short Term Residence Property Registry, b) the total lease fee agreed or the total amount under the annulment policy, c) the name of each digital platform, d) the particulars of the tenant, e) the commencement and expiration date of the lease, f) the method of payment of the lease fee.
Who is obliged to submit a Statement for the provision of information on the lease of property? (a) the owner of the property or the possessor, or the usufructuary or the sub-tenant, in case he/she assigns to a third party the management of the property for the purpose of short-term leasing; (b) the owner of the property or the possessor, or the usufructuary or the sub-tenant in case the latter leases the property along with the right to sublet it.
What is provided for in case of joint ownership of a property? In case of joint ownership, where the manager of the property is one of the co-owners, the other co-owners are not required to submit a Statement for the provision of information on the rental of property. Moreover, the manager is required to make a public deposit to the Deposits and Loans Fund, of the amount attributable to unknown beneficiaries of income, of whom the manager could not have any knowledge when registering the property in the Short Term Residence Property Registry.
What are the penalties of improper registration in the Short Term Residence Property Registry? An autonomous administrative fine of € 5,000 imposed on the property managers and an obligation to comply within 15 calendar days is provided for. In the case of a new violation within one year from the issue of the fine notice, the said fine will be doubled, while in the case of every subsequent infringement it will be quadrupled.
What are the penalties for any failure to submit a Short-Term Residence Statement, or submitting an inaccurate one, as well as for the late submission of such a statement? In case of failure to submit or submitting an inaccurate statement, the property manager is fined with double the lease fee as it appears on the digital platform on the day the check is conducted; and a fine of €100 is imposed in the case that a statement is submitted after the due date.
When and for what reasons can restrictions be placed on making properties available for short-term lease? Such restrictions may be provided by a joint decision of the Ministers of Economy and Development, Finance and Tourism for reasons related to the protection of the right to housing.
What kind of restrictions? The following are possible to be established: a) geographical areas where short-term lease of more than two properties per VAT number holder – beneficiary shall not be permitted, b) a maximum lease duration per property of ninety (90) days per calendar year and for islands with less than 10,000 residents, of sixty (60) days per calendar year. It is permitted to exceed the abovementioned duration if the total income of the lessor or sub-tenant, out of the total of the properties available for lease or sublease, does not exceed the amount of € 12,000 in the tax year concerned.
To which leases do these obligations apply? The obligations apply to short-term leases concluded through an electronic platform from 1.1.2018 onwards.
What are the tax characteristics of the income acquired from short-term lease? This is an income exempt from VAT and is considered to be income from real estate provided that the properties are leased furnished without the provision of any service other than the provision of bed linens, and in the case that any other services are provided, that income shall constitute an income arising from business activity. Specifically for the 2017 tax year, the income from this short-term lease shall be declared clearly and collectively in the income tax return forms of the relevant year.
The income tax shall be imposed on the basis of the tax bands for rents, i.e. with a tax rate of 15% on an annual income of 1 to 12.000 Euros, 35% on an annual income of 12.001 to 35.000 and Euros 45% on an annual income of more than 35.000 Euros.
Is it possible to qualify for preferential treatment of the taxable income arising from short-term leases in the event of voluntary disclosure? The statement of income from previous fiscal years derived from short-term leases as set out above is subject to the relevant favorable provisions of Articles 57-61 on “Voluntary disclosure of taxable income of previous years” of Act No. 4446/2016, which provide for a reduction of additional taxes and other charges.