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INSIDE AIRBNB’S ‘GUERRILLA WAR’ AGAINST LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

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"READ MY LIPS: We want to pay taxes,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s global head of public policy, told the nation’s mayors in 2016. In the years since, the home-sharing site has repeated the declaration in press releases, op-eds, emails, and on billboards. On its website, Airbnb says it is “democratizing revenue by generating tens of millions of new tax dollars for governments all over the world.”

But when Palm Beach County, Florida, a popular tourist destination, passed an ordinance in October 2018 requiring Airbnb and other short-term rental companies to collect and pay the county’s 6 percent occupancy tax on visits arranged through their sites, Airbnb sued.

Palm Beach County tax collector Anne Gannon wasn’t surprised. “We knew we were going to get sued,” she says. “That’s what they do all over the country. It’s their mode of operation.”

Gannon has been cajoling, threatening, and ordering Airbnb to collect taxes for its hosts since 2014. Five years, three lawsuits, and millions in unpaid occupancy taxes later, she’s still trying. “All we want them to do is pay their taxes,” she says. “They absolutely don’t want to pay their taxes the way we want to collect them. That’s the bottom line.”

Similar dramas are playing out around the country. From Nashville to New Orleans to Honolulu, Airbnb is battling local officials over requests to collect occupancy taxes and ensure that the properties listed on its site comply with zoning and safety rules. In the past five months alone, the company has spent nearly $1 million to overturn regulations in San Diego and has sued Boston, Miami, and Palm Beach County over local ordinances that require Airbnb to collect taxes or remove illegal listings. Elsewhere, Airbnb has fought city officials over regulations aimed at preventing homes from being transformed into de facto hotels and requests from tax authorities for more specific data about hosts and visits.

Airbnb is engaged in “a city-by-city, block-by-block guerrilla war” against local governments, says Ulrik Binzer, CEO of Host Compliance, which helps cities draft and enforce rules for short-term rentals, sometimes putting it at odds with hosting platforms. “They need to essentially fight every one of these battles like it is the most important battle they have.”

 

Global tax avoidance which helps to push up rental prices. https://www.wired.com/story/inside-airbnbs-guerrilla-war-against-local-governments

 

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22 minutes ago, Saving For a Space Ship said:

I wonder how wide spread this behaviour is across other industries ? 

Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Ebay, Starbucks, Uber, Lyft and a thousand other moochers, leeches and scofflaws.

Tax avoidance is the essence of the Silicon Valley business model.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/world/apple-taxes-jersey.html

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Apple has accumulated more than $128 billion in profits offshore, and probably much more, that is untaxed by the United States and hardly touched by any other country. Nearly all of that was made over the past decade.

The previously undisclosed story of Apple’s search for a new tax haven and its use of Jersey is among the findings emerging from a cache of secret corporate records from Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm that caters to businesses and the wealthy elite.

The records, shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with The New York Times and other media partners, were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The documents reveal how big law firms help clients weave their way through the gaps between different countries’ tax rules. Appleby clients have transferred trademarks, patent rights and other valuable assets into offshore shell companies, avoiding billions of dollars in taxes. The rights to Nike’s Swoosh trademark, Uber’s taxi-hailing app, Allergan’s Botox patents and Facebook’s social media technology have all resided in shell companies that listed as their headquarters Appleby offices in Bermuda and Grand Cayman, the records show.

“U.S. multinational firms are the global grandmasters of tax avoidance schemes that deplete not just U.S. tax collection but the tax collection of most every large economy in the world,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a former corporate tax adviser to such companies who is now a law professor at the University of Southern California.

Indeed, tax strategies like the ones used by Apple — as well as Amazon, Google, Starbucks and others — cost governments around the world as much as $240 billion a year in lost revenue, according to a 2015 estimate by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

 

 

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Any company that can push costs elsewhere will do it. Not that many industries decimate cities and condemn renters to higher prices and/or inferior areas though. 

Airbnb is taking over London – and this data proves it

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Despite the 90-day cap on listings, Airbnb is approaching 20,000 rentals a week, up from 1,000 as recently as 2013, according to data scraped from its site

The InsideAirbnb data reveals other trends. In 2016, for example, the number of stays with hosts who rent more than one property trebled, showing the increase of Airbnb-ing as a professionalised activity. This echoes the finding of a recent McGill University studyon short-term rentals in New York City, which claimed that 48 per cent of all revenue in 2017 went to the top ten per cent of hosts.

The fear is that these properties are removed from the housing supply, piling extra pressure on the strained residential property market, while undermining existing residents' quality of life. The McGill study, which was commissioned by two hotel trade unions, estimated that Airbnb had taken between 7,000 and 13,500 housing units off the market in New York City.

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, zugzwang said:

Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Ebay, Starbucks, Uber, Lyft and a thousand other moochers, leeches and scofflaws.

Tax avoidance is the essence of the Silicon Valley business model.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/world/apple-taxes-jersey.html

 

 

Sorry, I was not clear , i meant the suing of councils / gov's 

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6 hours ago, Saving For a Space Ship said:

Sorry, I was not clear , i meant the suing of councils / gov's 

Well I had a quick google and  I wasn't able to find any articles about Starbucks, Google, Apple suing councils - but Uber, which also have a very similar model to Airbnb (exploit private ownership, exploit tax loopholes, no one's an employee etc) have sued NYC over a licence cap. 

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Adding secret surveillance to the tax avoidance and decimation of neighbourhoods.

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/03/what-happens-when-you-find-cameras-your-airbnb/585007/

Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem

The home-rental start-up says it’s cracking down on hosts who record guests. Is it doing enough?

 

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How did Toby Harman, 37, get subsided / social housing in the first place..?

The real point is the number of former council houses / flats now in the hands of private landlords.  A generation gifted themselves most the nation's stock of socialised housing and they are profiting very nicely from this at the expense of others.

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How would this work in UK though?

The owners are presumably liable for the council tax on the property.

But then what about the VAT?  I assume Airbnb rentals are not zero-rated. 

However if the owners are not VAT registered because their earnings are not big enough, what then?

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I must be alone but I've never used airbnb. I've always thought that, if I turned up in a foreign country at 11pm and found my booking wasn't honoured then the last thing is want to do is try and get through to airbnb customer services. It's hard enough to actually speak to people at companies like eBay or Amazon when you have a problem. I'm sure it's a maze of online forms, email addresses with a 72 hour response time, and 0845 style phone numbers just playing recorded messages.

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Far from discouraging the kind of platform rentierism we see with the silicon valley mob with its parasitic, monopolistic stranglehold on wealth and wealth generation, the neoliberal elites love these silicon valley cartels because they cement their global hegemony on wealth "creation" in the "free market" through the appuratus of cartel money-printing, transnational "agreements" made in the 1990s that protect monopolies from competition and the avoidance of any flow of tax back into the communities on which they leech.

The idea of undermining local government must have them salivating profusely. In a world - which as far as silicon valley is concerned - is borderless, the pretense that sucking up 20% fees from around the world is not a tax on the "sharing economy" is laughable.

Technology and trademarks are as cheap as printing money - the secret to their seemingly disproportionate market dominance is not to provide better service but rather to get people to have faith in them so, deservedly or not they become household names. The machinery to make something - whether a brand or service - into a household name is not open to all - it's reserved for the silicon valley clique/crony capitalistic fiefdom and the money printing presses of wall street. Competition is destroyed mafia style by buying up companies and threatening to destroy them unless they sell.

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  • 295 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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