A judge has authorized the seizure of €779.5m ($835.5m) from Airbnb by the Italian financial police over alleged tax evasion spanning from 2017 to 2021.
The Milan prosecutor Marcello Viola asserted that the company, which has operated in Italy since 2008, failed to collect the 21% tax required by Italian law.
The tax, introduced in 2017, was challenged by Airbnb in 2022 when the company asserted that it opposed the principle of freedom, one of the EU’s four principles, which allows EU member states to provide services to each other.
However, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled against Airbnb, stating: “EU law does not preclude the requirement to collect information or to withhold tax under a national tax regime. However, the obligation to appoint a tax representative constitutes a disproportionate restriction on the freedom to provide services.”
Responding to this week’s accusations of tax evasion, Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty said: “We are surprised and disappointed at the action announced by the Italian public prosecutor on Monday.”
He added: “We are confident that we have acted in full compliance with the law and intend to exercise our rights with respect to this issue.”
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In the statement, Milan Tribunal prosecutors stated that three people who held managerial roles at Airbnb during the period of alleged tax evasion are also under investigation.
The news was shared across social media, with users on X calling for further investigations and commenting on the impact of Airbnb on local housing costs.
AirBNB is one of the many reasons for the inflated housing market.— Thrust ✗ (@ishotasegod) November 7, 2023
Others called for similar crackdowns on tax evasion in the UK.
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