The finance ministry has decided to take steps to curb tax evasion and the concealment of income earned by short-term Airbnb-style property leases, while seeking in the process to increase the protection of tourism enterprises from unfair competition.
The ministry is determined to use all means available to restrict such phenomena and, if necessary, to reinforce its arsenal with new legislation.
For the time being, efforts are focused on carefully examining all transactions involving short-term rentals, with electronic cross-checking of the information from income tax statements and booking platforms, as well as from credit cards and bank accounts to reveal hidden income. The ministry is also targeting those who advertise their properties via social media.
The Independent Authority for Public Revenues (AADE) will begin by checking which properties are not properly listed on booking platforms with the relevant registration number or have incorrect information, after which the amounts listed by the platforms will be cross-checked against the income owners have declared.
Steep fines of up to 5,000 euros will be imposed on those found to have incomplete or inaccurate information after they receive official notification to correct any mistakes or omissions, while their property may be removed from the booking platform entirely.
Property owner associations, meanwhile, object to proposed legislation to control the short-term rentals sector, saying it leads to the “economic strangulation” of owners, managers and workers, while damaging the country’s tourism sector as a whole. They called for a dialogue that examines the overall interests of the country, not just of hotel owners.
The call comes as the government is about to unveil new legislation regulating the short-term lease market, which has increased to an estimated 3.3 billion euros in 2022.
According to a Grant Thornton study, tourism spending via the sharing economy is growing strongly at a rate of 15 pct annually, rising to 14 pct of Greece’s total tourism spending in 2022. The sector also contributes to housing shortages as the averate price of short-term rentals is five times that of long-term leases, creating strong incentives to put properties on the short-term rental market.
The estimated loss of public revenue in 2022 as a result was 316.7 million euros, while short-term rentals also prevented the creation of an estimated 39,000 new jobs on an annual basis.