The so-called "horizontal economy" has spread in a very short time to numerous activities, from car transportation service to food delivery services, car sharing and even renting of apartments or houses for tourists.
In this last field, those evolutions raise several questions. Indeed, the hotel sector worries about the competition against a business model which does not bear the same charges or taxation. The Government seeks to levy taxes on the income received by the hosts, often absent of the tax returns. Finally, the municipalities are facing two challenges: to fight against illegal house rentals and to collect the local taxes, and mainly the well named tourist tax.
As a reminder, the tourist tax is a local tax levied on the nights spent in furnished rentals collected by tourist-oriented municipalities. More precisely, the tax is normally collected by the hosting establishments and paid to the municipalities. However, the collection by private hosting rentals is largely inexistent in practice.
In the wake of the Alur Act of 2014, which has simplified the context of hosting private rentals, a decree has been accordingly issued in August 2015 allowing the Internet platforms to act on behalf of the hosts for the collection and the payment of the tourist tax to the municipalities at the end of the year.
Accordingly, since 1 October 2015, certain Internet platforms pay directly to the City of Paris, on the behalf of the hosts, a tax of EUR 0.83 per night and adult, i.e. the tourist tax applicable to " 1 star and host rentals", which represents a total amount of 4.6 million euros.
Pursuant to the request made by the Mayor of Paris (Anne Hidalgo) in April to the legislator to "generalize the perception of the tourist tax to all of the online rental platforms", the Senate has adopted at the end of April an amendment authorizing municipalities with more than 200,000 inhabitants to make mandatory the registration of touristic rentals. This amendment still has to pass the examination of the joint legislative committee.
The perspective of the Euro 2016 and its millions of tourists have extended the debate from Paris to the major French cities.
Indeed, the host cities consider that the Internet platforms have the obligation to collect the tourist tax, on the grounds of the Finance Act 2015. Such a position is nonetheless subject to controversy, notably because of the technical difficulties raised by the multitude of different rates approved by the cities concerned. In an attempt to push the discussions forward, the Ministry of Finance posted late April a file summarizing the deliberations of all the municipalities.
Moreover, several of these cities are facing threats from the hotel sector which could refuse to reverse the tourist tax collected during the Euro, as a protestation against the competition of the Internet platforms. Such an action could cost several millions to the concerned cities.
Facing the risk of losing the financial benefits of the thousands of reservations made for the Euro, which begins in June, these cities have no will to play extra time.