Greater transparency and, above all, greater tax certainty. In other words: traceability and payment of taxes. The EU goes to the Airbnb war, with the proposed regulation that intends to bring order to the short-term housing sector. Names of companies or businesses do not appear, no one is mentioned by name but the recipients of the new rules are clear. “Short-term housing rents are developing rapidly in the EU, largely favored by the platform economy,” notes the EU executive. Airbnb and similar – Vrbo and Misterb & b – to name a few, are therefore advised. They and those who rely on them.
Based on the proposals put on the table by the Commission, the host will have to register with the public authorities, who will issue a unique identification code for anyone who intends to make their spaces available for hit and run stays. The host will be obliged to display his code on the platform, which will have to transmit his accommodation information to the public authorities. The platforms will be forced to share data monthly in an automated way via a single digital entry point.
The states, if the Commission’s approach is confirmed, will not have much freedom of maneuver. The community executive decides to proceed by means of a regulation, a legislative act which, in addition to setting the final objective, also establishes all the intermediate steps. After adoption and entry into force, Member States will have two years to establish the necessary mechanisms for the exchange of data.
That this is a tightening in terms of taxation emerges in that passage of the proposal which emphasizes that the new rules “will integrate existing instruments, such as the law on digital services or the directive on administrative cooperation in the tax sector”. The proposed regulation also mentions the e-commerce directive. “These sectoral rules will complement the general rules of the Digital Services Act, which establishes a series of obligations and accountability requirements for platforms operating in the EU,” explains Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President responsible for the Digital Agenda.
But there are also issues of public safety and sustainability that explain the Commission’s move. Short-term housing is also a source of concern, particularly for local communities struggling with ‘excessive tourist flows’, reads the proposed regulation. “Short-term housing rents should not grow at the expense of local communities,” stresses Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market. The proposal put on the table aims to have “a sustainable short-term rental sector, fight illegal ads and contribute to a balanced tourism ecosystem”. Airbnb are notified, and so are their users. These solutions may no longer be so affordable.