Airbnb is one of the most popular ways of making an income on the side. But what Airbnb tax impacts should you look out for?

Airbnb offers a great opportunity to rent out that spare room without the long-term commitment. Or, it’s a handy way to lease a holiday home that would be quiet for much of the year. Both of these things are great – but some Airbnb hosts may not realise the effects and benefits come tax time.

Australian Airbnb tax information for Australia can be tricky to find, so let’s try to touch on some important bits right here…

Extra income means extra taxes to pay at year-end

Warning: When you add a new source of income like Airbnb, don’t just treat that income as spending money.
Why not spend all your Airbnb income? Because earning that extra income means you’ll be charged more tax by the ATO at the end of the year. It is important to save some of what you earn through Airbnb so you can pay the ATO at tax time.

Don’t just save a few dollars!

In the first year when you top-up your income with untaxed earnings from bnb hosting and other types of ‘side businesses’, you might need to save as much as 30 or 40 per cent of your new earnings for tax! The amount depends on the total income you earn and the amount of tax deducted from your other income sources. Your tax agent can help you predict the right amount you should save for the “tax man.”

Renting out that spare room or property can bring in some useful extra cash – plus you can meet nice, interesting people. But be careful about your Airbnb tax obligations and tax benefits – there is a lot to gain, or a lot to lose.

“Re-renting” a rented property on Airbnb

According to Victoria’s Department of Consumer Affairs, if you rent your property from someone else, you need written consent from your landlord if you want to list it (or part of it) on Airbnb.

When you rent out a room through Airbnb, you’re technically offering a short term sub-let agreement, which in some states requires a tenancy agreement. A confusing aspect of Airbnb is that regulations are still being made and can differ from state to state. Consider the risks involved before listing your property, or talk to your landlord or real estate agency first. You’ll also need to check your rental agreement or lease plus Body Corporate laws if you live in an apartment complex. This is serious stuff – don’t just ignore it or try to be sneaky by re-renting property on Airbnb; you could get into a lot of trouble!

“If I own my property, can Airbnb trigger CGT?

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is payable when you sell a rental home. This can be a hefty tax bill.

CGT is usually not payable on your family home. HOWEVER, if you rent out your family home (or a part of it), even just a room on Airbnb, suddenly your family home is viewed differently by the ATO; when you sell it, you may face an ATO tax bill for CGT.

The income you make from being a host will usually outweigh the later effect of CGT, but not always. It’s something you need to consider carefully.

Airbnb Tax benefits

Renting a room out of your existing property does create some income and tax perks.

You can claim expenses and depreciation for the percentage of the area of your house that was available for rent.

Airbnb tax advantages can include properly-calculated portions of…
• Internet and phone costs
• Water, power and council rates
• Upkeep and repairs
• Depreciation on the cost of furnishings and equipment
• Interest on your mortgage

Those can add up to a decent set of tax deductions for Airbnb hosts.

You’ll need to keep a record of when the room was actually rented in order to correctly claim expenses, but for a regular host, it often pays off.

Simple record-keeping saves big $$$ at tax time

Keep records for everything to do regarding the room or property… the same as you would for a regular tenant.

This paperwork, come tax time, will ensure you can claim everything related to Airbnb tax and expenses. You just need to save receipts and notes about what they’re for. It’s easy. Don’t get carried away over-organising it. The important part is that you just stay in the habit of keeping evidence for expenses.

Don’t try to hide your Airbnb income
If you’re using this source of income, it’s out there for everyone to see. The ATO can track this income easily, so even if you’re not earning a lot of money, keep your records and be honest about the income you’ve generated from the property.

The ATO is not “laid-back” about people who under-claim rental income and it can lead to back taxes owing plus new fines, penalties and interest charges.

In summary, if you aim to host a room or rent your property:

• understand the tax implications of being an Airbnb host,
• don’t hide or under-claim this income; the ATO can spot your Airbnb income from a mile away,
• save your expense receipts and notes, and
• talk to your tax agent (like about how to properly claim all of your expenses, so you make the most of those tax deductions!