Why Airbnb desperately wants to pay hotel taxes, and why some cities won’t let it

It’s hard to say whether letting Airbnb collect and remit hotel taxes would, in fact, put its hosts at increased personal risk. One fear is that if hosts began officially paying the occupancy tax, it would create a record with the Department of Finance that they had used their residence for a business purpose in violation of their lease. But it’s unclear whether Airbnb would itemize hosts’ names and addresses in its accounting, or provide a single return, as it has done in other cities, such as Portland, Oregon.

What is true, however, is that in cities where Airbnb has reached an agreement on tax collection, doing so has been a precursor to important legal reforms. In late October 2014, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed a law that legalized Airbnb-style home-sharing in the city—about a month after Airbnb began collecting and remitting hotel taxes. In Portland similar legislation was greenlighted in late July; Airbnb began collecting hotel taxes there at the start of that month. In San Jose avote in Decemberto levy the hotel tax on Airbnb guests also legalized the platform. Read full article. 

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