Gavel slams: Airbnb not eligible for privileged tax treatment

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airbnb

A report released on behalf of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) calls on state and local government leaders to reject Airbnb’s future pursuit of voluntary collection agreements (VCAs) and look to the Wayfair decision as a pathway to cancel current VCA agreements and bring Airbnb up to code with current industry tax standards and regulations.

AHLA released a new report on National Tax Day, conducted by former Director of the Montana Revenue Department Dan Bucks, which clearly demonstrates why the Supreme Court’s Wayfair vs. South Dakota decision last year eliminates the need for state and localities to enter into “voluntary collection agreements” (VCAs) with Airbnb and provides the legal framework and incentive to tax Airbnb like every other U.S. online business now.

“Airbnb no longer qualifies—if it ever did—for privileged treatment by tax agencies as a ‘voluntary collector,’” states Bucks in the report. “This treatment gives Airbnb an unfair advantage in the marketplace by creating a tax and regulatory haven for Airbnb lodging operators. Post-Wayfair, Airbnb’s “voluntary agreements” are now a relic of a past legal premise that no longer exists.”

Bucks urges government leaders to begin the process of terminating existing “voluntary” tax agreements with Airbnb in coordination with state adoption of “general marketplace provider” legislation. Bucks went on to say that disparities between the tax treatment of Airbnb and other online businesses pose a legal risk to states and localities.

“Airbnb has been making back-room deals and strong-arming state and local jurisdictions into ‘voluntary’ tax deals with no transparency, oversight or auditing capability for years,” stated Chip Rogers, President and CEO at AHLA. “Airbnb, and other short term rental platforms need to abide by the same rules as all other law-abiding, tax-paying businesses in the industry.”

AHLA urges state and local government leaders to terminate Airbnb’s voluntary tax deals and instead institute a tax policy that will collect taxes from Airbnb and its operators to ensure an even playing field and transparency for taxpayers. In San Francisco, home of Airbnb’s corporate headquarters, the company agreed to pay back taxes and collect city taxes from its hosts.  AHLA urges other states and localities to follow suit.

“Airbnb’s secret tax agreements are hurting communities across America by shortchanging their schools, infrastructure, and other public services” stated Rogers. “Airbnb’s special treatment needs to end.”

The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) is the singular voice representing every segment of the hotel industry including major chains, independent hotels, management companies, REIT’s, bed and breakfasts, industry partners and more.