News-Press by Laura Ruane
April 19, 2018
Home-sharing company Airbnb has worked out most of its kinks in Florida, but it still faces controversy — and the occasional lawsuit.
Much of the discord centers on the bed tax most counties charge on short-term lodgings.
Collier County’s tax collector sued Airbnb in January, seeking a court order to the company to pay current and past bed taxes.
But Lee has accepted bed tax payments from Airbnb on behalf of its hosts for about two years. The company reports it remitted $903,000 in bed taxes to the county in 2017.
Hoteliers say they’ll support anything that’s operating legally, paying the bed tax and providing a safe environment for guests. But many don’t believe Airbnb is playing by the same rules as they are.
On Tuesday the American Hotel and Lodging Association fired its latest salvo on what it calls “Airbnb’s secret and voluntary tax deals with local and state governments.”
The hotel association called on state and local government leaders to reject Airbnb’s pursuit of voluntary collection agreements for sales taxes and bed taxes.
That call hasn’t gotten much traction in Florida, however. Earlier this month Charlotte County became the 40th of 63 counties that levy a bed tax to reach an agreement with Airbnb.
The hotel association says Airbnb is negotiating these deals behind closed doors, without public input and without adequate oversight or auditing to ensure the company is paying the proper amount of taxes. [READ MORE]