Airbnb announces it will collect Washington lodging and sales taxes.

Airbnb announces it will collect Washington lodging and sales taxes.

(Oct. 2, 2015) Airbnb announced this week that on October 15 it will voluntarily start collecting lodging and sales tax on behalf of Washington state hosts who use Airbnb as a platform to rent out their home and properties on a short-term basis.  While Airbnb’s announcement is a step forward, WLA joins the American Hotel & Lodging Association in calling for all lodging establishments, including those in the “sharing economy,” to be held to the same regulatory, licensing, insurance and taxation requirements to protect the health, safety and well-being of their guests.

In a statement submitted for today’s congressional hearing on the “sharing economy,” AH&LA raised concerns about short-term online rental companies. AH&LA stated that these companies have obligations to uphold, including taking reasonable steps to facilitate compliance with commonsense safety, security, health and fire standards. It highlighted that some newer market players in the short-term online arena are significant commercial enterprises – indeed, illegal hotels and inns – that need to be reined in.

In some jurisdictions, these short-term rentals are illegal, while in others they may violate existing zoning, licensing or other laws in place to protect consumers and the safety and integrity of communities. AH&LA called on state and local jurisdictions to ensure that:

  • Hosts register and obtain a business license and other applicable transient occupancy or vacation rental permits.
  • Short-term online companies are not enabling or encouraging illegal activity.
  • Basic health, safety and cleanliness standards are met.
  • All taxes and fees are paid.
  • Zoning laws are followed.
  • Appropriate levels of insurance are in place to protect homeowners, guests and communities.

To date, more than 22 states and 100 municipalities are in the process of working on legislation to achieve uniform taxation and public safety standards.

Neighbors for Overnight Oversight, a coalition of concerned residents, community leaders, businesses and policymakers, is also speaking out for sensible rules and oversight of the short-term online rental market.  The group has posed an online toolkit, which includes sample letters to the editor and useful information on the issue of unregulated and unlicensed accommodation.