Airbnb’s battle with the city of San Francisco over taxes and regulations isn’t over yet.
Airbnb already collects and pays the relevant rental taxes on the behalf of its hosts — as much as $US1 million per month paid to San Francisco, the startup says — but some hosts based in the city have gotten letters from local authorities demanding that they pay up out of their own pockets.
This comes weeks after the city found its “Airbnb Law” unenforceable, which sought to regulate the home rental service and require that guests only stay for 90 days if the owner isn’t in residence.
“On behalf of hosts, we have collected taxes on every required transaction since October, 2014. Along with the monthly checks, we already give the City anonymized booking data confirming that our community has paid all required taxes. It is wrong for the City to tell you to pay a tax it already has received,” goes the letter in part.
Moreover, the letter alleges that San Francisco city authorities want access to room rental data to ensure that everybody using the service pays their taxes in full.
Here’s the full text of the letter, as obtained by Business Insider:
Recently, some hosts in San Francisco have received letters from the City Tax Collector demanding that they pay hotel taxes, even though Airbnb is already collecting those taxes and sending them to the city on your behalf. The city is accepting nearly $US1 million every month from the Airbnb community, but bureaucrats are demanding our community pay the same tax twice.
We know you are frustrated, and so are we.
Like most tax issues, this can get pretty complicated. Here are the facts:
On behalf of hosts, we have collected taxes on every required transaction since October, 2014. Along with the monthly checks, we already give the City anonymized booking data confirming that our community has paid all required taxes. It is wrong for the City to tell you to pay a tax it already has received.
What’s more, when the City performed a comprehensive audit and told us what they thought was owed in back taxes, we paid the assessment in full.
But even though the City has all the information they need to verify that our community has paid its tax bill, they won’t be satisfied unless we give them personal, private information about our hosts and guests.
The City of San Francisco wants to know who you are, where you live, who stayed in your house and when they were there. This demand for your personal information is wrong and we’re concerned that it sets a bad precedent for how the city treats other internet platforms.
We have been working with the City to resolve this matter without compromising your privacy. But even as we’re trying to solve this problem, the Tax Collector is sending threatening letters to regular San Franciscans and trying to make the Airbnb community pay the same tax twice.
We’ll continue to work on your behalf to create a system that is simple, fair and respects our hosts’ and guests’ privacy. As always, we will continue to keep you informed as we work to resolve this matter.
We’d also strongly encourage you get involved and let your elected officials know this process should be easier. Sign up here. And don’t hesitate to reach out to us to share your questions or concerns.
The Airbnb Team