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We’re so over Uber: Italy ponders slapping taxes on workers in the ‘sharing economy’

It's for your own good, don't you know

Italy has tabled Europe’s first, and most ambitious, legislation to tax and regulate internet platforms in the so-called “sharing economy”.

The “sharing economy” euphemism is misleading, as companies like AirBnB and Uber are really “resource allocation intermediaries”, and could well monopolise social infrastructure in the future.

Criticisms of the platforms include from them evading labour regulations and universality obligations – as Tom Slee, author of What’s Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy explained in an interview here.

The Sharing Economy Act (Disciplina delle piattaforme digitali per la condivisione di beni e servizi e disposizioni per la promozione dell'economia della condivisione, Italian-language link) defines its subject as an "economic system generated by the optimization and shared allocation of space, time, goods and services through digital platforms".

According to Google Translate (Google is Uber’s biggest investor, by the way), the link says:

The impasse of traditional economic models and the employment crisis have created more favorable conditions for the spread of this new model of consumption, which opens up new opportunities for growth, employment and entrepreneurship based on sustainable development economically, socially and environmentally and that itself is an approach aiming for the active participation of citizens and to building resilient communities, which can strengthen their ability to influence the course of making positive change.

Italians would be taxed for their work for such platforms at 10 per cent up to to €10,000, and more than that would count as regular income for tax purposes.

Academic Revital Cohen doubts whether certain parts of the SEA would be compatible with the European Single Market, although the proposed bill is likely to be amended. She adds that a) Brussels wants to devise its own pan-European regulation of such companies, and b) the European Court has been asked by the Spanish courts to decide whether AirBnB is a tech company or a hotel company.

The verdict would determine whether the City of Barcelona can regulate who stays in digs leased via AirBnB. ®

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