Airbnb evading tax comment

The American start-up has set up an optimization scheme using several tax havens, such as Jersey, Delaware, and Ireland.

Airbnb doesn’t just allow you to travel for cheap. The American apartment rental site also allows money to go around the world.

Indeed, the money you pay to the site also travels through several countries, mainly tax havens. Because the objective of these circuits is of course to escape tax, starting with that of the country where the apartment is located.

Already a hundred million euros in turnover

Thus, when you rent an apartment in France, the rent is not paid in France. And so Airbnb does not declare this income to the French tax authorities… which can also suit the owner if he does not declare this location either.

Considerable sums thus escape the tax authorities. Indeed, the turnover in France, last year, can be between 100 and 130 million euros (see opposite).

Knowing that Airbnb requests a commission of 3% from the owner, and from 6% to 12% from the tenant, we can estimate the total commission at 12%. Airbnb would therefore have earned 13 to 16 million euros in commissions in France…

Admittedly, Airbnb does have a subsidiary in France, called Airbnb France SARL. Employed by fifteen people, it is owned by Airbnb Holdings LLCcompany registered in Delaware, the internal tax haven of the United States.

But the turnover of this French subsidiary is ridiculous: 3.4 million euros in 2013. According to its accounts, this turnover is made up solely of services provided for the parent company: “development aid and support services”. Result: the French subsidiary therefore paid equally ridiculous taxes: 97,692 euros in 2013.

The money goes to Ireland

Asked, Airbnb indicates that the money from French rents is sent to Airbnb Irelanda subsidiary based in Dublin and owned by Airbnb Inc.subsidiary also registered in Delaware.

And recently, it’s with Airbnb Ireland that are concluded all contracts outside the United States. Indeed, the start-up had written in April to its customers to tell them: “We recently opened an international platform in Ireland. Our community outside the United States will now be contractually linked to Airbnb Ireland.”

In theory, Ireland taxes profits at just 12.5%. But in reality, the American Internet giants pay much less, thanks to the use of various tax loopholes. Thus, a year ago, an investigation by the American Congress revealed thatApple paid almost zero tax to the Irish tax authorities.

Still too much tax

But that’s not all. Airbnb, obviously believing that it still pays too much tax, is in the process of setting up an even more complex tax optimization scheme (see opposite).

Indeed, in November-December 2013, three new subsidiaries were created in the tax haven of Jersey, called Airbnb International Holdings Ltd, Airbnb 1 Unlimitedand Airbnb 2 Unlimited.

Then the start-up created two new subsidiaries in Ireland, International Airbnb and Airbnb Paymentswhich are held by these Jersey subsidiaries.

Still, this assembly could be deemed illegal by Bercy. Indeed, the French tax authorities could consider that the turnover made in France must be declared in France, because this income is generated by using resources recognized in France (employees, servers, etc.) For this reason, the tax authorities have already notified of significant tax adjustments to Google or Amazon. But Airbnb responds “not to have been controlled by the French tax authorities”, and ensures “to pay its taxes well in the countries in which it operates”.

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