Day 41: How to regulate the sharing economy?
Regulations and taxes are important matters in Sweden. So this question seem to be the one that most people here are concerned with when discussing the sharing economy. Tonight, for example, I participated in a panel discussion with the chairmen of the youth wings of the Green party and the Moderate party, together with sharing economy expert Karin Bradley at KTH, and we talked a lot about this. But the more I think about these matters I become more convinced that it's not a good idea to have special rules for sharing economy services.
First of all because there is no clear definition of what they are. And second of all because it doesn't seem fair why I should get a tax deduction when doing something through a sharing economy platform, but not when doing it as a regular freelancer.
Rather I think that the growth of services that we see in the sharing economy shows that we need to rethink regulations and taxes for the rest of the economy as well. Is Uber pop cheaper than regular taxi? Why? Or rather, why is regular taxi so expensive? Is it easier for people to earn money in the sharing economy than getting a regular job? Why? Services in general are highly taxed and heavily regulated. That is a problem, and one of the reasons why people try to get around this.
In the audience was a man representing the restaurant business who thought that at home restaurants should fulfill the same regulation as ordinary restaurants. In Sweden this would surely mean that it would be impossible to do these arrangements legally. Whereas it's totally ok to invite friends for dinner for free. This doesn't make sense. But on the other hand, I can understand the frustration from businesses that have to fulfill tons of regulation, just to see someone set up at small business in their home without doing the same. My point is simply this: the problem is not that people will serve food in their homes without monthly inspections from the municipality, but that the restaurant business in general might be over regulated.