Supreme Court Ruling Makes Airbnb’s Tax Agreements Obsolete

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WASHINGTON, DC – A new report released today on National Tax Day underscores why the Supreme Court’s Wayfair vs. South Dakota decision eliminates the need for states and localities to enter into “voluntary tax agreements” with Airbnb. The report, issued by Dan Bucks, former director of the Montana Revenue Department and previous executive director of the Multistate Tax Commission says the decision last year provides the legal framework and incentive to tax Airbnb like every other U.S. online business now.

“Airbnb no longer qualifies—if it ever did—for privileged treatment by tax agencies as a ‘voluntary collector,'” states Bucks in the report. “This treatment gives Airbnb an unfair advantage in the marketplace by creating a tax and regulatory haven for Airbnb lodging operators. Post-Wayfair, Airbnb’s “voluntary agreements” are now a relic of a past legal premise that no longer exists.”

Bucks urges government leaders to begin the process of terminating existing executive agreements with Airbnb in coordination with state adoption of “general marketplace provider” legislation. Bucks went on to say that disparities between the tax treatment of Airbnb and other online businesses pose a legal risk to states and localities.

The report released on behalf of AHLA calls on state and local government leaders to reject Airbnb’s future pursuit of voluntary collection agreements (VCAs) and look to the Wayfair decision as a pathway to cancel current VCA agreements and bring Airbnb up to code with current industry tax standards and regulations.

“Airbnb has been making back-room deals and strong-arming state and local jurisdictions into ‘voluntary’ tax deals with no transparency, oversight or auditing capability for years,” stated Chip Rogers, President and CEO at AHLA. “Airbnb, and other short term rental platforms need to abide by the same rules as all other law-abiding, tax-paying businesses in the industry.”

AHLA urges state and local government leaders to terminate Airbnb’s voluntary tax deals and instead institute a tax policy that will collect taxes from Airbnb and its operators to ensure an even playing field and transparency for taxpayers. In San Francisco, home of Airbnb’s corporate headquarters, the company agreed to pay back taxes and collect city taxes from its hosts. AHLA urges other states and localities to follow suit.

“Airbnb’s secret tax agreements are hurting communities across America by shortchanging their schools, infrastructure, and other public services” stated Rogers. “Airbnb’s special treatment needs to end.”

Click here to download report.

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About the American Hotel & Lodging Association

Serving the hospitality industry for more than a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the largest national association solely representing all segments of the 8 million jobs the U.S. lodging industry supports, including hotel owners, REITs, chains, franchisees, management companies, independent properties, bed and breakfasts, state hotel associations, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AHLA focuses on strategic advocacy, communications support, and educational resources for an industry that advances long-term career opportunities for employees, invests in local communities across the country and hosts more than one billion guests” stays in American hotels every year. AHLA proudly represents a dynamic hotel industry of more than 54,000 properties that supports $1.1 trillion in U.S. sales and generates nearly $170 billion in taxes to local, state and federal governments. Learn more at www.AHLA.com.

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