Airbnb hosts in San Francisco will have to pay taxes on dishes and bedsheets

Property owners who rent their apartments on Airbnb and other services in San Francisco have a new task: counting dishes and bedsheets.

The city of San Francisco is about to require renters to itemize all the furniture and equipment in their homes so that they can pay taxes on it, similar to the way some businesses pay taxes on equipment, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The tax on such “business personal property” will generally be slightly more than 1 per cent of the item’s value, and will vary depending on how old the item is, according to the report. The items subject to tax depend on whether the entire house, or just a bedroom, are rented.

While not a huge amount, the tax is the latest example of the regulatory scrutiny facing sharing-economy startups like Airbnb, as they challenge existing businesses such as hotels and as government officials grapple with how to handle the new services.

Airbnb has begun collecting hotel taxes from its guests in various cities in recent years, including in San Francisco, where it collects a 14% hotel tax which it then pays to the city.

Among the household items that need to be reported to the city of San Francisco are furniture, sheets, towels and appliances, according to the Chronicle.

Airbnb said in a statement that “Middle class families shouldn’t have to pay extra taxes on their sheets. This invasion of privacy mandates that San Franciscans inventory and pay taxes on every picture frame, towel and spoon in their home.”

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