As Aussies scramble to get their tax returns filed on time, thousands of Airbnb hosts have been left scratching their heads, unsure of the rules and too scared to ask the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Airbnb Australia claims to have 40,000 hosts, each earning an average of $7,100 – this equates to almost $300 million in income.
In May, The Byte reported on the ATO issuing new guidelines for Uber and Airbnb, but those hosting travellers in their home were fine as long as they earned under $75,000. Airbnb Australia’s country manager, Sam McDonagh, said it was up to individual users to comply with local tax laws and declare the income in their annual tax return. “We’re 100 per cent tax compliant in every country we operate in and certainly for our hosts and guests, we advise them that they need to comply with all the taxation legislation wherever they are,” he said. “We encourage them to report all income that they earn in their tax return every year and that information is readily available for those hosts on the website.”
It’s not just the tax office, local council regulations are also vague. The City of Sydney, for example, does not permit visitor accommodation in residential areas.
An anonymous Airbnb listener told the ABC: “I didn’t want to ask the council because I didn’t want them to say no.” “If I was to run [my Airbnb listing] as a long-term lease it wouldn’t need council approval and, in my view, it shouldn’t matter if it is a short- or long-term lease.”
There is also the matter of insurance and public liability. Airbnb Australia said it was working on providing insurance cover for its Australian hosts. “We’ve rolled out comprehensive public liability cover in North America and that will completely cover Australia and New Zealand by the end of the year,” Mr McDonagh said.
Should there be clear guidelines for Airbnb users? Have your say.
Written by Alex Harmon
Source: ABC News