[AirBnB] announced Wednesday it will begin collecting and remitting the 6 percent state hotel occupancy tax May 1. The decision followed more than a year of talks, said Laura Spanjian, Airbnb’s Texas public policy manager. Airbnb has similar tax-collection agreements with 25-plus states.
“These agreements are a meaningful revenue boost for communities, and we hope to reach similar agreements with cities around Texas soon,” Spanjian said by email.
Houston homeowners who rent out their properties are supposed to pay a total of 17 percent in occupancy taxes, 7 percent of which goes to Houston First, which oversees hotel tax collection for the city.
Yet of the 7,200 active hosts Airbnb says operate in the area, only 70 have registered with the city as taxpaying hosts, said Jonathan Newport, Houston First’s director of government affairs.
Under the new agreement, the state portion of the hotel-occupancy taxes will be guaranteed. Guests will be charged the correct amount on their bill for a stay of 29 nights or less, and Airbnb will then remit the collected taxes to the state.
“The sharing economy plays an important role in our state’s overall fiscal health,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said in a statement. “We applaud Airbnb for agreeing to collect state hotel occupancy taxes, as all lodging facilities in Texas are required to do.”
See here, here, and here for some background. This is a positive step, as it gets some revenue that otherwise would have been lost for the city while giving AirBnB some regulatory certainty. People want to use AirBnB, and as seems to be the case with everything these days there’s a bill in the Legislature to override local restrictions on it, so this is another level on which it makes sense for the city to reach a deal with them. Hope it works as intended for everyone.