Airbnb to collect transient occupancy tax in El Dorado County
Late last month, El Dorado County partnered with Airbnb in collecting tourism taxes, joining 400 jurisdictions doing the same worldwide.
The rental company will start collecting the county-regulated Transient Occupancy Tax on Aug. 1 and the agreement applies only to unincorporated areas of the county. According to Sue Hennike of the county’s Chief Administrative Office, rental hosts have been tasked with charging guests the tax and then remitting it to the county on a quarterly basis.
“Right now, Transient Occupancy Taxes are paid quarterly and all self-reported,” Hennike said. “(Hosts) just tell the county how many nights they rented and at what rate, then calculate the tax.”
Jasmine Mora, spokeswoman for Airbnb, said the new process will make it easier for hosts to pay their fare share. When a renter books a reservation online, the charge shows a breakdown of fees and taxes, soon to include the Transient Occupancy Tax.
“We’ve seen other places where hosts want to pay and there’s not a process to do that,” Mora said.
According to an email from Lisa Cohen, another Airbnb employee, the average El Dorado County Airbnb rental earned $15,200 last year. Airbnb hosts keep and pay taxes on 97 percent of their earnings and Cohen’s email said the company has collected $592 million in tourist taxes to date worldwide.
Just under half the locally collected tax is sent to the county’s general fund, to be used at the Board of Supervisors’ discretion, Hennike said. The remainder goes to business and tourism development to draw more visitors to the county.
Hennike said the agreement finalized May 22 has been three to four years in the making. It required negotiations over policies like providing permit numbers on listings. Hennike said she believes some of the process was slowed down as Airbnb was smoothing out litigations in other areas.
“Once we renewed negotiations in earnest with the ad hoc committee on (vacation home rentals) and breathed more life into addressing this issue, we were able to come to an agreement quickly,” Hennike said.
While renters have the option of going through different rental platforms like Craigslist or even word-of-mouth, Hennike said the county isn’t looking at expanding a similar agreement with platforms besides Airbnb — yet.
“That topic of greater use of third parties and technology to help us out is definitely on our list, after we deal with the nuisance issues,” Hennike said.