New York hotel lobbyists flip-flop on taxes

Earlier this week, we released new data indicating that the Airbnb community will generate $768 million in economic activity in New York and support 6,600 jobs this year. We highlighted a state law that prevents Airbnb from collecting and remitting $21 million in hotel taxes. And we asked leaders to work with us to change the law to permit Airbnb to collect and remit taxes on behalf of our hosts and guests. It isn’t every day that a company offers to help contribute more tax revenue.

In response, hotel lobbyists said they don’t want the Airbnb community to pay taxes. The media reported that our effort to pay hotel taxes would be “[met] with stiff resistance from the hospitality industry.” The Hotel Association of New York City said if there was a proposal to allow our community to contribute $21 million to New York they would “oppose it, certainly.”

We were extremely surprised by their response. We’ve had a number of conversations with hotel operators in New York who understand how Airbnb works and have continued to thrive as our community grows. And the same organization and other New York hotel leaders have previously indicated that they were concerned about the Airbnb community not paying hotel taxes.

We thought you should know more about what some New York hotel leaders had been saying, before they changed their tune:

  • In August, the Chief Executive of Apple Core Hotels complained “These people [who rent out their apartments] don’t pay taxes…The web sites may tell them they need to pay all taxes, but they don’t require it.”

  • In February, the Hotel Association of New York City complained that Airbnb hosts don’t pay hotel taxes.

  • In March, the Hotel Association of New York City raised concerns that Airbnb led to “lost revenues for the city.”

  • In April, Lodging Magazine reported that “Many hotel owners have been up in arms because Airbnb hosts are not subject to traditional hospitality based regulations or requirements, such as paying lodging taxes…”

Our community wants to pay their fair share in taxes and contribute more to New York. A small subset of hotel lobbyists and officials shouldn’t stand in their way. We hope we can all work together to put New York first and we are confident that the vast majority of policymakers in New York will be eager to partner with us to help collect these valuable tax dollars.

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