Starting today, Airbnb hosts in Texas will be required to pay a six percent state hotel occupancy tax, which the company will collect and then hand over to the state. The agreement, struck in April between the Texas Comptroller's office and Airbnb, is supposed to make it easier for hosts to meet state guidelines.
Laura Spanjian, public policy director at Airbnb’s southwest region, said the deal will solve a problem many hosts are having around the world: what to do about pesky government taxes.
“Could we actually take on the responsibility of the host and have Airbnb collect and remit the tax?” she said. “We realized, legally, we could do that if we had agreements with cities and states that in essence transferred responsibility from a host to us.”
In the relatively new sharing economy (which includes other companies like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, and Favor), governments are still figuring out how to regulate an industry that is estimated to generate $335 billion by 2025.
This spring we've also seen disagreement between the state and cities over regulating Airbnb rentals. At the state capitol this session, one bill approved by the Senate would prevent cities from writing certain ordinances and banning short-term rentals. Yet at the same time, San Antonio City Council is considering implementing harsher restrictions on short-term rentals.
Some of the proposed rules would include requiring hosts to have a permit, limiting the number of rental guests to six, and requiring annual inspections from the city.
Incidences reported by Councilman Mike Gallagher's constituents prompted a review of the city's current policies towards short-term rentals. In an interview with the Rivard Report, Gallagher said his constituents were worried that their “residential areas were now becoming commercial areas.”