Airbnb, a website where travelers can book stays in private homes, agreed to pay San Francisco's 14 percent hotel tax by the summer tourist season, according to a report.
That means those travelers booking a private stay in San Francisco will be subject to the new taxation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The city hopes to recoup millions of dollars in lost transient occupancy tax. Portland, Ore. was the first to charge Airbnb hotel tax, and likely San Francisco will be the second.
"I've been pushing Airbnb to pay the transient occupancy tax at the full rate," Board of Supervisor President David Chiu told the Chronicle. "Now that they are doing the right thing and remitting taxes, I'm looking forward to moving forward on legislation to regulate shareable housing."
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Airbnb has been criticized by city officials, merchants and activists for not following local accommodation regulations, including ignoring the city's hotel tax and its a ban on the short-term rentals of residential spaces. Chiu's new legislation would make it easier for Airbnb to operate within the city. Airbnb has an annual revenue of around $450 million.
"Of course, we don’t always agree with governments about what sales and occupancy taxes are owed under the law, if any," wrote David Hantman, Airbnb head of public policy, in a company blog post
. "But whether or not we agree with the tax laws, we want to help our hosts follow the rules. It’s good for the government officials who won’t have to identify hosts and collect the taxes themselves: we’ll do the work for them. And it’s good for hosts who want to pay their fair share."
After this announcement, it would seem that cities are willing to let private homeowners operate a bed-and-breakfast or rooming house as long as it gets some of the action. We'll see if the city will also start demanding business licenses and other fees from Airbnb providers.