After initially agreeing this summer to start collecting the same 14 percent occupancy tax as San Francisco hotels, which we told you about back in April, Airbnb says it will finally make good on its promise next month.
As Re/code reports, Airbnb will tax its guests starting October 1 with revenue going to the city treasury. The company has avoided the tax for two years and 48 hills estimates it has cost the city "tens of millions of dollars in lost income."
Whether the back taxes might be collected — among other issues — was discussed at an eight-hour hearing on Monday, as the Chron reports. During the meeting, the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee voted to amend Sup. David Chiu’s legislation to legalize short-term rentals like Airbnb, including adding a provision to help the city enforce the rules.
In addition to collecting the hotel tax, Chiu's legislation calls to limit a unit's rental frequency to a total of 90 days a year when no host is present, require some yet-to-be-determined insurance, and create a city registry for hosts that would depend on companies disclosing user data, which at this point Airbnb refuses to do. The legislation does not currently call for short-term rental companies to pay back taxes.
The public hearing sparked heated debate between hosts and housing activists, and for the first time, included an Airbnb representative. The supervisors had a lot of questions for David Owen, the regional head of public policy at Airbnb, most of which he managed to avoid answering according to 48 hills' Tim Redmond. Chiu asked Owen when Airbnb would start collecting taxes, to which he replied: "We are working diligently with the tax collector and city attorney. You will hear more in the near future."
Apparently it only took two days to fix a problem that's been happening for two years.
We'll keep you posted on changes to Chiu's proposed legislation, which will need to pass the Land Use Committee before going to a full vote from the Board of Supervisors.