Airbnb will voluntarily begin collecting taxes on behalf of hosts in Washington state, who are renting out spare rooms, apartments or vacation homes to visitors here.
The San Francisco-based company said today it will start collecting the fees on Oct. 15, and that they will include everything from state to local retail sales tax, as well as special hotel/motel taxes and convention and trade center taxes.
Typically, Airbnb hosts are legally obligated to pay taxes, but often times they don’t, either because they are unaware or baffled by the requirements. By forming an agreement directly with Airbnb, Washington could see a spike in revenue for the state (Likewise, visitors may also see higher rates on Airbnb in Washington if they weren’t used to paying for them).
“You shouldn’t need to hire a lawyer and an accountant just to share your extra bedroom, but many hotel and tourist tax rules were designed for big corporations with teams of lawyers and accountants,” said Airbnb in an announcement.
We’ve reached out to Airbnb to find out how much will be charged in taxes across the state, but did not get a response immediately.
More than a year ago, Airbnb began collecting and remitting hotel and tourist taxes from guests in San Francisco and Portland, but it’s still a fairly rare arrangement with Washington appearing to be the fourth state, following North Carolina, Oregon and Rhode Island. Several cities in other states and countries also have tax relationships with Airbnb, including Amsterdam, Chicago, Malibu, Oakland, Palo Alto, Paris, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Jose, and Washington D.C.
In a release, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said: “As Airbnb’s presence grows in our city, I appreciate their willingness to step forward voluntarily to ensure that the appropriate taxes are being collected on short-term rentals in Seattle and across the state.”
Airbnb has faced some backlash by municipalities over various issues about creating make-shift hotel rooms from spare bedrooms and vacation properties. To that end, Murray hinted that this agreement is just the beginning of working more closely with Airbnb. At the city-level, Seattle has begun conversations with Airbnb “to build on this agreement by establishing a clear and fair regulatory framework that will enable people to continue sharing their homes,” he said.