Markus Meinzer is a senior researcher at Tax Justice Network, an international research group. There he is mainly investigating transparency of international tax systems.
Online Time: Mr. Meinzer, why could many German Airbnb landlords and landlords soon get mail from tax investigator?
Markus Meinzer: The Hamburg Senate, toger with Federal Ministry, has submitted a so-called group request to Irish tax authorities. The aim of request is to obtain personal data of German Airbnb landlords. Group inquiries are one of latest search tools in fight against tax offenders. They are used to request personal data and n to compare m with tax data.
Online Time: So Irish tax authorities are forwarding question to Airbnb, which has its European headquarters in Dublin?
Meinzer: Exactly, AIRBNB provides personal data of German landlords to Irish tax authorities. In turn, Irish tax authorities pass m on to German tax authorities. In this way, relevant tax Office can check wher German landlords registered on platform have entered ir rental income in ir tax return. If this is not case, a Buß and criminal proceedings will be initiated.
Online Time: But does Airbnb have to release personal data? Business secrecy applies.
Meinzer: That is true, but group request of German authorities is higher than trade secret of Airbnb. The request falls under so-called tax exchange of information on request, which is very extensively regulated in EU. I do not see any problems here that Germany is going to get this request before Irish treasury.
Online Time: Why are you so sure?
Meinzer: Group inquiries were passed on condition that obligation for evidence lies with requesting State, in this case Germany. The German authorities must conclusively explain why data are important for implementation of taxation procedure. Therefore, if German authorities show that Airbnb is rented by tax, Irish side is obliged to respond to standard.
Online Time: When is Irish authorities expected to respond?
Meinzer: The EU directive provides for a response to be made within six months. Anything beyond that would not be in line with EU law.
Online Time: Let us assume that German tax authorities will still receive AIRBNB data this year. What does this mean for Airbnb?
Meinzer: This would mean that rentals are better covered by AIRBNB tax. With personal data, German tax authorities could better check rental income achieved via AIRBNB. Ultimately, however, landlords are taken, not platform itself.Updated Date: 12 May 2018, 12:02