Airbnb's rental income sleight of hand: the "2-minute" tax magic

"As a US company, we’re required by US law to collect taxpayer information from hosts who appear to have US-sourced income. To add your taxpayer information, go to your Payout Preferences and complete the appropriate form. It only takes a minute or two!"

- Why is Airbnb requesting my taxpayer information?

How Airbnb marketing strategy represents it

"It's easy! This stuff only takes 2 minutes!!" (MAKE MONEY FOR US!!!!!)

How the U.S. government thinks of it

Fine print: Oh, and you should really take the time (probably longer than 2 minutes) and expense to consult a tax professional. And at least familiarize yourself with the U.S. tax code especially with regards to federal, state, and local requirements regarding real property rental -- try this lovely IRS publication for some light bedtime reading. Don't have the first clue what the heck depreciation is and how it may apply to your Airbnb activities? This handy 112-page guide will help (don't forget Form 4562)!

Which will you file: Schedule C or Schedule E? You'll have to choose, although the number of days' personal use of your dwelling may determine this for you depending on which state you reside and/or which state the property is located in, as well as how much active participation you have in business operations vs. earning income as a passive activity (where losses are limited: please consult Form 8582). There is an exception to PAL rules most notably in this case for rental real estate activities, although this Special Allowance starts to be phased out if your income is greater than $100,000 -- which might be of particular interest to Airbnb's high-earning target demographic in major metro areas.

Of course you'll be saving receipts and itemizing business expenses for the tax advantage -- you can even deduct the funds you'll be spending on an accountant who can help you navigate the brave new waters of running your own business without any assistance from (or liability on the part of) Airbnb. They can surely help you set up a quarterly schedule to pay your Self-Employment tax as well if required.

Then, sit back and marvel at all the amazing innovative efficiency you've just wrung out of those two minutes!!