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Airbnb transactions to be monitored by tax collectors in Mexico

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Airbnb offerings, such as this one in Mexico City, are winning over younger travelers who were potential hotel guests. Photo: Airbnb

Mexico’s government will monitor Airbnb payment accounts, making it harder to conceal income from the tax collector.

A new regulation will crack down on tax evaders, said Gabriela Chavarría Román, the vice president of the Merida chapter of the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals (AMPI).

On Sept. 25, PayPal, the tool through which renters made deposits on Airbnb stays, will automatically transfer that income to the host’s bank account instead of allowing a balance to remain.

In 2017, Airbnb listed 900 properties available in Merida. No proper count exists today, but growth of the platform in the north has been pronounced, she said.

At a conference, “Myths and Realities of Airbnb,” Gabriela Chavarría shared with the real estate experts tips on helping their clients make good investments.

“Many believe that renting a property through a platform will represent large profits without analyzing numbers in the sense of knowing how much a property can cost, how much it will be invested to be offered and if the fee to be charged will be profitable,” she said. Utility costs alone can cut into the bottom line, she said.

“I think that it is wrong to put a house in the Historic Center on the (Airbnb) platform because the investment is very high and is not valued by the renters,” Chavarria continued. Guests often don’t appreciate the responsibility of staying in a private home and, especially if they have children, can cause damage and wear and tear on a property.

And although Airbnb offers insurance, many owners do not take into account the small print. Insurance only pays if the host is up-to-date in paying their taxes on revenue, and can prove it. Yucatan requires that Airbnb hosts pay a 3 percent tax on income.

Homeowners also don’t often realize that they are sometimes responsible for their guests’ behavior. If they commit a felony, the house could be seized.

One homeowner was surprised to see an Airbnb tenant make off with some of the furniture. And even if the guest can be tracked down, it’s impossible to pursue a court case without an invoice proving the transaction was reported to the tax collector.

Airbnb hosts can even be subject to money-laundering laws if enough money changes hands without being reported.

Related: Airbnb host doesn’t vet guests, and house is trashed.

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