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How Europe manages the sharing economy

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EUobserver's 2017 edition of its Business in Europe magazine takes a closer look at the the sharing economy.

Photo: ElisabethZet

Photo: ElisabethZet STUNNING GROWTH The sharing economy is growing more rapidly than any other sectors these days. Recent analysis for the Finnish government produced by PwC, found that the value of transactions in Finland's collaborative market was a little over € 100 million in 2016. It is estimated that the potential total value of transactions in Finland's collaborative economy will exceed € 1.3 billion by 2020. This is a stunning 1200 percent growth. But many people do not realise that they have to declare revenues from the shared economy or they think that the tax authorities will most likely never UBER AUDIT Netherlands. By using information provided by the Dutch authorities, it was possible last year for a team of specialists in SKAT to identify 1,800 Uber drivers in Denmark that operated in Denmark in 2015. earnings should be declared for tax purposes. Of the sample, 180 drivers had earned more than 80.000 Dkr (€ 10,750) and so far, 500 of the Uber drivers had their income assessment changed as a result of the audit. ”We started with income from Uber, because of the information released by the Dutch Tax Authorities.”, Malte Thomsen says. ”We have become so used to not having to do anything to declare our taxes, because it is done automatically by our employers. But then, when you have income from driving Uber, you rent out a blog, then you do need to be proactive and declare the earnings yourself,” says Malte Thomsen. The tax information released by Uber in the Netherlands was a one-off event, due to pressure from EU authorities in Brussels. Meanwhile the Danish minister of taxation Karsten Lauritzen has ongoing talks with Airbnb on how Airbnb can cooperate with SKAT. The number of platforms is also mushrooming. In total, 142 shared economy platforms were SHARING ECONOMY & EUROPE MAY 2017

Many of them, like Uber, Airbnb and YouTube, are registered abroad and can not be ordered under current rules to provide information to the national tax authorities. Everyone is responsible for declaring their own income and it is the local right that applies," says Karine Froger, PayPal's head of communication in France and Belgium. BLIND SPOT Rebecca Filis works as a shared economy expert in the Swedish tax agency, Skatteverket. The agency published an analysis in 2016 about system. ”Platforms like Uber, PayPal, AirBnb and alike for income taxation, our report concluded,” says Rebecca Filis. However, the platform owners do not consider themselves as employers, which would oblige them to pay social contributions or withhold taxes from employees' incomes. ”It is a blind spot and one of the biggest challenges for the authorities and the legislators when we have these new business models," she says. "No one under 18 can have a PayPal account. GLOBALISATION The Nordic welfare states are all based on tax structures that were established around one hundred years ago. In Denmark, for example, the foundation of its tax legislation dates back to 1922, and does not take the modern economy into account. ”Most Nordic countries will try to adapt the existing laws to the shared economy,” says Rebecca Filis. ”But the more I think about it, the more I realise that this is not only about the shared economy. We need to think bigger, this is about the digitalisation and globalisation of the economy”. address with the regulations from the 1920s. It is no longer B2C [business to consumer] relations. What happens to ownership in the future? Will we own cars at all in future?” she wonders. Photo: acanyi SHARING ECONOMY & EUROPE MAY 2017— 27

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