The Court of Justice of the European Union today issued an interesting ruling on short rentals. The case concerns the Belgian law that obliges intermediaries, including booking portals, to communicate host data, contact, the number of overnight stays, and housing units managed in the previous year to the financial administration to identify the subjects, relative to debtors of a regional tax on tourist accommodation establishments and their taxable income.
In the court’s opinion, the Belgian rule falls within the tax sector and must consequently be considered excluded from the scope of the e-commerce directive, as instead requested by Airbnb. The portals will, therefore, be required to communicate the data requested by the administration.
The court will soon return to dealing with the matter.
The trial hearing on the request for a preliminary ruling proposed by the Italian Council of State in the context of the lawsuit on decree-law no. 50 of 2017, under which the portals must operate a withholding tax of 21% on the amount of the fees collected on behalf of the non-business short leases and must transmit the data relating to the short lease contracts concluded through the portals to the Revenue Agency themselves.
According to estimates made by the Federalberghi Study Center, which constantly monitors the online market with the collaboration of three independent entities (the Italian Incipit Consulting SRL, EasyConsulting Srl, and the American Inside Airbnb), in the five years of non-application of the rule, Airbnb has failed to pay taxes of over 750 million euros.
In a press release posted today on the European Union Court of Justice website, the Belgian regional legislation requiring providers of property intermediation services and, in particular, operators of an electronic accommodation platform to transmit to the tax certain particulars of tourist accommodation transactions is not contrary to EU law.
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