In the wake of this week’s contentious hearing on legislation to legalize and regulate short-term housing rentals in San Francisco, where Airbnb was chastised for snubbing the city on collecting and paying local taxes, the company today sent an email to its hosts announcing that it would begin doing so Oct. 1.
The message tells hosts that it will be collecting and remitting the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax on their behalf and that “hosts will not have to do anything extra.” But as Tax Collector Jose Cisneros told us for our article this week, that isn’t totally true. He said that hosts are still businesses and therefore need a business license, although companies like Airbnb can assume responsibility for the other two tasks involve: obtaining a “certificate of authority” that allows a business to collect taxes and filing monthly tax statements.
“All hosts would have to do is file annual business registrations,” Cisneros told us.
But hey, following local laws and correctly informing their customers about the legality of these transactions has never been Airbnb’s strong suit, so I suppose this is progress. The company’s email follows in its entirety:
Earlier this year, we announced that we would begin collecting occupancy taxes on behalf of hosts and guests in San Francisco. We’ve been working with the City to make the process streamlined and easy to follow, and today we are pleased to share that we are planning to launch this program on October 1. We know our community contributes substantial, positive economic impacts in neighborhoods across San Francisco, and this initiative will continue to make the city even stronger.
We’ve posted more information about this announcement on our Public Policy blog and we hope you’ll check it out. We also wanted to share more details about what this update specifically means for hosts and guests in San Francisco:
For reservations in San Francisco booked on or after October 1, guests will see a new line item on their Airbnb receipt for the city-imposed Transient Occupancy Tax. The tax will be added to the total amount paid by guests on stays of fewer than 30 days – hosts will not have to do anything extra. If you’ve already been collecting the San Francisco Transient Occupancy Tax for Airbnb guests, you should not do so after October 1.
Collection of these taxes won’t affect the payout amounts you receive as a host. Just like before, you’ll continue to receive your accommodation fee minus the Airbnb host service fee. Before paying and on the itemized receipt, your guests will see a separate amount for taxes in the total amount they pay for a reservation. If you’d like to learn more about occupancy taxes and Airbnb, please visit our Help Center.
Additionally, tomorrow our Regional Head of Public Policy David Owen will be hosting a webinar to discuss this important topic, and to give you the opportunity to ask questions. You can sign up to participate here.
San Francisco is our home and we look forward to continuing to work with everyone here to make it an even better place to live, work and visit.
The Airbnb Team