HOLIDAY LETTING: The ATO is watching operators in the STHL market.
HOLIDAY LETTING: The ATO is watching operators in the STHL market. Christian Morrow

ATO is watching Short Term Holiday Letters

BYRON mayor Simon Richardson has taken to social media to warn those listing their properties with online sharing platforms the Australian Taxation Office will be watching them.

"The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced a new data-matching program to identify taxpayers who are not disclosing income from properties used for short-term holiday rental (STHR),” Cr Richardson wrote.

"Taxation experts say taxpayers may have assumed properties listed on STHR platforms, such as Airbnb, would not be detected by the ATO, but they warn this is not so.”

According to the ATO website, information from online platform sharing sites for around 190,000 Australians will be examined to identify taxpayers who have left out rental income and over-claimed deductions.

ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said the increased scrutiny of short-term holiday rentals comes following the availability of short-term holiday rentals exploding in the online space.

"With the growing number of homes, apartments, units and rooms available via accommodation sharing sites, there is a real risk some people may not understand their tax obligations,” Ms Anderson said.

The ATO plans to match the data provided by online rental platforms and their related financial institutions with ATO records in order to find landlords who are ignoring the appropriate checks, such as registration, reporting, lodgement payment obligations, income received per listing, listing dates, inquiry and booking rates and prices quotes and charged per night.

The program will match details of property owners held by the online STHR platforms and access data held by financial institutions handling payments for the online platforms.

The ATO will identify data such as property addresses, owners' names, bank account details, details of payments, gross rental income and commissions and rental bookings.

A spokesperson said the ATO has a particular focus on all aspects of the sharing economy.

"We believe some people using sharing economy platforms are failing to report their income, either on purpose or because they assume their level of activity constitutes a hobby and doesn't require reporting,” a taxation spokesman said.

"Our focus is to ensure that people renting a room, their home while they're away or an investment property through web or app-based platforms in the sharing economy understand their obligations”.

If a landlord is caught out, they can face penalties up to 75 per cent of the tax shortfall.

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