Poland's Finance Minister seeks to tax Airbnb on Polish revenues - FT
Speaking in an interview with Britain's Financial Times on Monday, Polish Finance Minister Tadeusz Kościński said that America's Airbnb service should pay tax on revenues earned in Poland.
Minister Kościński said that he was aiming to ensure Poles who rent out their flats via sites such as Airbnb pay the applicable taxes, and that gathering data on this would give the authorities an insight into how much services such as Airbnb were making in Poland.
"If we’re going to make sure that anyone who rents out their flats in the sharing economy pays their fair share of tax, then also the people they’re paying — Airbnb - are part of the value chain and should be paying as well," said Kościński.
"Otherwise they’re distorting markets. Companies that are based in Poland are paying taxes so their margins are lower. Therefore it’s an unfair practice. I’m not there to either kill them or milk them, just to make sure that they don’t disrupt markets," the minister added.
The Financial Times pointed out that the issue of taxing digital companies, who often have headquarters or legal entities in one country but also cross-border business activities, has become an increasingly contentious topic on both sides of the Atlantic. After an effort to agree a common EU approach faltered last year, France put forward plans for its own digital tax, sparking an angry row with the US, which then threatened retaliatory tariffs on French goods such as champagne.
Poland has also been considering its own broader digital tax, but after intense lobbying by the US, home to many of the biggest global digital companies, the Polish government has decided to await the outcome of negotiations at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on an international approach to digital taxation.
"Some digital companies have 60-percent margins and some have 6-percent margins, if you start putting the same tax on turnover, you’ll crucify some of them, and we don’t want to crucify companies. I would rather sit down with Airbnb and Google and Amazon and everyone else and say: ‘you know you’ve got to pay tax in Poland, otherwise there’ll be no roads, no police, no schools. It’s a no-brainer that you’ve got to pay tax: how much are you prepared to pay?’" said Kościński.