Airbnb, tax evasion hypothesis extended to 2023: company risks new crimes

The meeting with the Financial Police and the Revenue Agency on Wednesday. Among the material acquired there is also a document with an analysis of the heavy costs of the decree law on flat rate tax

The tax evasion charges for Airbnb could also be extended to 2023 and “to subsequent years” with the “danger of committing further tax and property crimes”. After the seizure of over 779 million euros ordered by the Milan investigating judge against the Irish company and three former managers, the Milan prosecutor’s office is ready, tomorrow morning, to take stock with the Financial Police and the Revenue Agency to analyze the documents acquired, but also to push for the return of the capital whose seizure was requested, also in light of an agreement with Ireland, a country with taxation that facilitates multinationals. In short, Airbnb can still make peace with the Treasury, without incurring a trial and possible new crimes.

The prosecutor’s office intends to close a game which pits Italian regulations and the rental platform against each other and which, at the moment, allows the American giant to continue to ignore the law decree which imposes the payment of the flat rate tax of 21% to the brokerage company of short rentals. Airbnb continues to maintain that it is not subject to the obligationa “conscious” choice not to comply with the legislative provisions which is based – according to the prosecutor’s office – on “rather evanescent criteria” and which would have as its objective to avoid the “potential risk of an increase in the prices of advertisements and the consequent loss of market shares in favor of other competitors”.

The investigative activity on Airbnb arose from a tax audit that began on May 4, 2022 with regard to the tax periods from 2017 to 2021, but the disputes are extended until this year even if the amount of the hypothetical crime of failure to declare has been quantified until 2021. Among the material acquired by the Financial Police there is a document internally classified as ‘Privileged and confidential’ which contains an analysis on the effects of the decree law in question and in which it is estimated that “the “failure to comply with the provisions on data communication and withholding tax, with reference to the 2017-2018 period alone, leads to a potential debt quantifiable at more than 200 million euros”.

From an unfair competition platform that alters the Italian short-term rental market

Document which together with the other elements acquired by the Financial Police will enter into the discussion of tomorrow’s meeting in a prosecutor’s office which for some time now, from Google to Booking through Meta to Amazon, has tried to investigate the alleged tax evasion of the giants. The seizure against Airbnb has become necessary due to the “concrete” risk that the availability of “the profit from the crime” could “aggravate or prolong the consequences of the contested crime and facilitate the commission of other crimes”.

In particular for the Milan prosecutor’s office, the conduct of the Irish company “which still persists in failing to pay the tax, also following the tax audit” – discussions have been ongoing for months with the Revenue Agency which does not they find a synthesis that satisfies both parties – “it generates a clear hypothesis of unfair competition capable of significantly altering the entire Italian short-term rental market”.

For prosecutors Giovanni Polizzi, Cristiana Roveda, Giancarla Serafini, “there is also the risk of committing further crimes of a fiscal and patrimonial naturederiving from the availability of the profit from the tax crime which could either be reused in the same commercial activity, thus generating with a similar mechanism, further cases of crime for subsequent years to those in dispute here, or be destined for another type of investment of a financial or economic nature which would make it more difficult to identify the criminal origin of the money deriving from illicit tax savings and could integrate other criminal acts such as those of money laundering and self-laundering” .