Published on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Airbnb to start collecting room tax in San Francisco

The city of San Francisco could gain by $11 million a year when Airbnb begins collecting taxes from customers who book rentals starting next month, according to an estimate by SF Gate.  

The short-term rentals giant, worth a reputed $10 billion said yesterday it will begin collecting transient occupancy tax from October 1, but did not clarify whether it will pay back taxes back-dated from the six years it has been operating.

"Our community members in San Francisco have told us they want to pay their fair share and the overwhelming majority have asked us to help," wrote David Owen, Airbnb head of public policy in a company blog post.

"In the past, it's been difficult for individual hosts to pay taxes that were designed for traditional hotels that operate year round," he added.

On the Airbnb booking platform an extra item will be displayed on the booking page highlighting the 14% tax to pay.

San Francisco-based Airbnb has also agreed to start paying tax in Portland, Ore and in New York.  

San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros says Airbnb and other similar booking platforms have the same obligations as hotels to collect and remit taxes.

"Some people feel, 'I'm not a hotel, I'm simply a homeowner,' but if you have a transient occupy your space for a rental amount, it doesn't matter whether you or your guests consider yourself a hotel, you must remit the transient occupancy tax," he said.

San Francisco's 34,000 hotels rooms generated $310 million in hotel taxes during the 2013-14 tax year.

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