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Attentive to Local Lodging activities, the tax man is tightening its grip on owners who fail to report and pay their taxes. Online platforms may soon be required to share information on customers, according to the Jornal de Notícias. The aim of the Portuguese Revenue is to avoid fraud and tax evasion. To this end, the ministry is studying ways to force the holiday letting reservation platforms to report “AL” operator data to Finanças.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, announced that currently there are 59,000 Local Lodging registrations whereas of December 2015 the total was 28,000. She attributed the increase in large part to the legal obligation of digital platforms to display formal enrolments.
Representatives from eight cities protested against the rules applicable to holiday letting platforms, advocating more transparent regulation. The municipalities of the cities of Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Krakow, Vienna, Reykjavik and Amsterdam subscribed to the declaration sent to the EU Commission. City officials stated that online tourist letting platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com should be obliged to share data with regulators. Currently, these internet booking services permit the anonymity of listing owners of properties as well as of the holidaymakers who let them, exacerbating pressures that the recent invasion of mass tourism places on the infrastructure of these municipalities.
Airbnb announced that, since 01 May 2016, it has already delivered almost five million euros to the City de Lisbon from the collection of levies on holidaymakers. To date in 2017, the amount collected has been €3,100,000. Airbnb is the only internet hosting platform to collect the Tourist Tax (one euro per night per person) on behalf of the Lisbon City Council.
In the first month of data-crossing via digital platforms, ASAE (Autoridade de Segurança Alimenta e Económica) examined 142 “AL” operators. Inspectors instituted 30 misconduct proceedings and suspended the activity of one establishment. Since July 2017, legislation requires Local Lodging operators to display their registration numbers in online advertising, facing fines of up to €32,500 for non-compliance.
The online hosting platform generated €1.07 billion in Portugal last year, almost half in Lisbon. Airbnb said that this figure accounts for “all the money that Airbnb guests spend during their stay as well as the amounts that hosts with ads on the platform earn in their hosting activity.”