Airbnb and the City of San Francisco continue their passive-aggressive feud today, as the Chronicle reports: In a bid to completely discourage hosts from actually registering their short-term rentals with the city, as they legally must do in an undertaking even Airbnb's CEO hadn't made for his own SF rental as of January (he has since done so), city officials would like all hosts to itemize their every household belonging. Anything renters might use — from beds and mattresses to each stick of furniture — must be submitted to a pedantic tax of just over 1 percent on its value. Yes, this “business personal property” includes items bought unrelated to renting. Happy Airbnbing!
"We have heard loud and clear from [hosts] that they want to be treated like everybody else and are willing to pay taxes like everybody else," said Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, who is talking to people I certainly haven't heard from. "They are operating their homes as a business and so we are treating them as we would any other business."
When we last checked in December, the city was cracking down on short-term rental law scofflaws to the tune of $400k in fines. While Proposition F, which Airbnb fought with ample funding and self-satisfied scorn, failed at the ballot box in its bid to further regulate the industry, it seems like San Francisco is trying to make its existing Airbnb rules work, now with the addition of this new enforcement. However, by the Chronicle's count, so far just a third of the city's 6,000 Airbnb and VRBO etc. hosts have registered with the city. Now, they'll come running, of course.
This all left Airbnb fuming, probably, with the company arguing that “Middle-class families shouldn't have to pay extra taxes on their sheets... This invasion of privacy mandates that San Franciscans inventory and pay taxes on every picture frame, towel and spoon in their home." Invasion of property is a big Airbnb no-no.
But not to worry, says the Assessor-Recorder “We believe when all is said and done, for many rentals, the assessed values will be quite low." Great! So the point is?
Form 571-R, with itemized "business personal property" must be submitted on April 1st but penalties in the amount of 10 percent of the total assessed value (for which one can call and consult officials) won't kick in until May 7th.