Greek revenues authority again promises ‘safari’ to locate income from Airbnb-type leasings

31 August 2018
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Greek tax authorities are reportedly ready to commence an oft-repeated pledge to locate undeclared income from Airbnb-type short-term property leasings, months after a relevant law was ratified and amid reports of a veritable “explosion” in such online bookings in Greece.

Neighborhoods around central Athens’ main archaeological sites, such as the previously non-descript Koukaki district close to the Acropolis and other attractions, as well as a bevy of popular holiday isles, have skyrocketed on Airbnb’s site and other similar online platforms.

Violators face fines by Greece’s independent public revenues authority of up to 5,000 euros, with a doubling of the fine in case of repeat offenses. Other obligatory measures are also envisioned in the strict legal framework – enacted by the Tsipras government last year to find much needed revenue in order to fulfill annual and high fiscal targets agreed to with institutional creditors, i.e. primary budget surpluses of 3.5 percent of annual GDP.

In order to legally lease properties (apartments, vacation villas, studios etc) on a short-term basis, the specific authority created an online platform for property owners and managers to register all of the revenue they have received up until today and for all leasings from now on.

The aim is to tax undeclared income and clamp down on money laundering.

Greek tax authorities have warned that they are in contact with three major online short-term lease platforms and will derive data from the latter to locate violators in Greece.

One of the increasingly negative aspects of the new tax regime for Airbnb-style leasing in Greece is the fact that whatever revenue is derived is added to a taxpayer’s total yearly income, instead of a specific portion being taxed from the specific revenue – for instance, a flat 15-percent “cut” from a 40-euro per day lease. Therefore, even a small amount of revenue tacked on to a Greek taxpayer’s annual income can “bump” the latter into a higher tax bracket, with the commensurate increase in tax obligations exceeding, often significantly, whatever revenue was generated from a few days of leasing a property via the online platforms.

The stricter framework even allows for cross-checking beyond electronic means, with onsite inspections and even auditors posing as interested customers.

Any property owner or manager in Greece that now wants to lease short-term lodgings must register with the authority’s platform and then prominently display the registration number on whatever online sites the property or properties are posted, with one interpretation claiming that this also extends to social media networks.

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