Ever booked a hotel room online and wondered why the “final” price is higher than the price quoted on the screen? Or gone to check out of your room only to find that your bill has mysteriously increased, even though you assiduously avoided the mini-bar, and definitely did not spirit away the bathrobe in your luggage? Well, there’s a word for it, and one with which readers of this column should be very familiar: tax.
It’s certainly no coincidence that tourism-based taxes have multiplied considerably since the financial crisis. And it is no coincidence either that such taxes have sprouted up in the eurozone’s most cash-strapped countries, and especially those with substantial tourism industries. Spain and Greece are two examples. And in Portugal, companies are starting to complain about the increasing prevalence of these “discreet taxes.”
An indication of how widespread tourist taxes … Read More »
Should innovative new business models adapt to the tax system, or should governments and tax authorities adapt to innovative new business models? I rather think, for the sake of human progress, that, for the most part, the latter should apply. But perhaps we are at risk of allowing the former to happen more and more. This especially seems to be the case in the so-called “sharing economy.”
Take Airbnb for example. It recently announced that by the spring of 2017 it will have the systems in place to remit and collect France’s various local hotel and occupancy taxes in 50 cities. In other words, the company has spent considerable time and effort on a project that is nothing to do with its core business activities, and all to do the French tax authorities’ jobs for them. Of course, the traditional hotel and hospitality … Read More »
By George! The UK’s Chancellor (Finance Minister) seems to have brought off the impossible by announcing a budget which everyone agrees with. Of course the Opposition (its duty is to oppose, as they always say) sent up some ritual distress flares, but they illuminated more of Labour’s distress than Osborne’s. Different commentators had different takes on the cleverness of the Budget, from very clever to surpassingly clever; but no-one called it stupid. Everyone realizes that it is an electoral Budget; that is hardly worth saying. What is perhaps worth observing is that there is no doctrine in the Treasury at present; there is just a cold calculation of how to retain and increase political power. Like it or not, this is the most impressive governing engine that has been seen in Whitehall for decades. And in fact there is quite … Read More »
We should give Ireland (Eire, that is) a bouquet for dropping its air travel tax, although it’s possible that the credit really belongs to RyanAir and the European Commission (in very unequal proportions). It’s like free will: when a human being does something, you can usually prove that they did it in response to external or historical causes. But at the end of the day, they still have to take the action themselves. So, RyanAir may have threatened to remove untold numbers of flights and flight attendants (who would go to live in Warsaw, instead); and the EU may have disallowed the really juicy parts of the ticket tax. But eventually the Government has to act, and it has. Unlike some other governments, which persist in levying this most illogical and destructive of all taxes, notably the UK. We have … Read More »