Launceston Airbnb host dodges tax

Airbnb is fast becoming a popular alternative to hotels.
Airbnb is fast becoming a popular alternative to hotels.

A loophole exists for Airbnb hosts to avoid paying taxes, according to one anonymous Launceston host.   

“I’ve spoken to them [ATO] and asked them how to go about doing it. 

“Their actual advice to me was at this point in time they see it as a cash transaction, the same as if someone is selling something on eBay,” said anonymous. 

“It’s a very ambiguous situation with the tax at the moment and I’ve been told that the tax office is in talks with Airbnb. 

“But there’s no resolution as of yet and that’s because the payments are handled via offshore accounts.”

A spokesperson for the ATO said they couldn’t comment on Airbnb hosts paying tax due to confidentiality.

“Due to confidentiality provisions in the tax act the ATO is unable to comment on any individual's or entity's tax affairs,” they said.

However, the ATO’s website lists that taxes apply to activity conducted in the sharing economy in the same way it would to activity “conducted in a conventional manner”. 

It says GST must also be registered if you earn over $75,000 from sharing economy activity. 

Amounts received from renting out a room in a residential house or apartment are not counted in this turnover.  

Digital Tasmania spokesperson Andrew Connor said Airbnb users were not exempt from taxes. 

“Digital Tasmania believes that people running Airbnb businesses locally and offering that service, should be paying their fair share of tax. 

“Just like the tech companies like Airbnb themselves they should be paying tax in Australia instead of offshoring it.”

There are over 300 rentals in Tasmania currently listed on Airbnb. 

Airbnb has not yet responded to comment.