Zimbabwe targets Airbnb for taxation
Zimbabwe is now targeting digital accommodation service provider, Airbnb for taxation.
The digital service continues to gain popularity in the Southern African country and is recognised for its disruption of the local travel and tourism industry.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the country’s revenue authority, and with the government having recently set up parameters to regulate the taxation of digital platforms, Airbnb is now firmly under the radar.
“Isn’t it proper that Air Bed and Breakfasts (Airbnb) should start paying taxes? And we need statics of the tourists that use them, anyway,” reads a post tweeted by Zimbabwe Information Ministry Permanent Secretary and government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana.
Financial analyst, Norman Nyamandi, criticised the move and said: “Airbnb is just an online reservation channel” that did not warrant taxation.
Nyamandi added that the government should rather make it mandatory for all property owners leasing out their properties to “register through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and pay a Tourism Levy” in addition to other business-related taxes.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry was impacted by COVID-19 disruptions, which, aside from struggles with every-day operations, forced some operators in resort towns such as Victoria Falls to shut their doors.
Digital booking applications and websites are gaining popularity, but are very likely to be affected by taxation – something stakeholders are concerned about.
However, according Mangwana did add that new tax will be “taxed for income, so if there is no business you don’t pay”.
There has been no immediate response to a request for comment from Airbnb.
Market research shows that travellers in Airbnb listed homes in Zimbabwe come from Britain, USA, Zimbabwe and South Africa, in addition to other African Union (AU) member countries.
The number of homes available for booking via Airbnb in Zimbabwe has declined from 890 in 2018 to about 603, according to its listings for Monday.
In January this year, Zimbabwe officially announced that it had contracted British Virgin Islands company Daedalus World Limited to collect taxes from e-commerce operators, digital advertisers, content platforms and sports betting outlets.