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France could make Airbnb tell tax man about hosts' earnings

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France could make Airbnb tell tax man about hosts' earnings
Photo: AFP
12:56 CET+01:00
The French government is mulling over a new report that lists 19 propositions to make the shared economy in France less “lawless” and to ensure the tax man is getting what he is owed.

Pascal Terrasse, the Socialist MP tasked by the French PM with coming up with a report on how France could better regulate the sharing economy, called on company bosses to “take on their responsibilities”.

In a statement that may have the bosses of Airbnb and BlaBlaCar sweating, as well as their users, Terrasse said the sharing economy “is not a lawless zone” and proposed to “ensure the contribution of these platforms” to state coffers.

In the standout proposition Terrasse recommends companies like Airbnb - which counts France as its second biggest market - should be forced to pass on information to the French tax man to let him know exactly how much people are making each year by renting out their apartments on the home-sharing site.

The move is to prevent people from making money through companies like Airbnb and Drivy, which is the equivalent for cars, and not declaring it.

He believes a limit of between €2,000 and €3,000 a year should be imposed, above which people should pay taxes on what they have earned.

The MP also wants a distinction made between earnings and shared costs – which is effectively the premise for how the ride-sharing company BlaBlaCar functions.

The report comes at a time when France is struggling to adapt to the so-called “uberization” of the economy, with traditional taxi drivers protesting against the rise of Uber and the hotel industry claiming home-sharing site Airbnb is killing them off.

But Terrasse struck a positive note and warned that the terms "the sharing economy" and "uberization" should not be banded together.

Terrasse said the sharing economy “is a credible alternative to a model of consumption that is running out of steam.”

But it's not just the big companies like Airbnb and BlaBlaCar that the report is aimed at, with France counting some 15,000 businesses among the shared economy sector, which is worth around €2.5 billion.

The MP urged the government to act to make sure internet giants like Google and Apple were not able to avoid taxes in France.

His proposals could very well be included in a raft of employment reforms set to be drawn up by labour minister Myriam El Khomri. 

Thanks to the success of companies like BlaBlaCar and Drivy and the huge popularity of Airbnb, France is considered to be at the forefront of the burgeoning shared economy.

"France is the market where Sharing Economy companies are made or broken," wrote Liam Boogar on Rude Baguette, the specialist blog for French start-ups.

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