Airbnb has been trying to win over regulators and lawmakers in New York by pledging to crack down on illegal hotel operations and collect taxes from rentals that happen on its platform. In an effort to get new regulations passed to legitimize its service in NY, the company put an estimate of just how much the city and state is missing out on by not allowing it to collect taxes there.
In a letter to the NY State Legislature and NY City Council today, Airbnb global policy chief David Hantman estimated that Airbnb could collect as much as $65 million in hotel occupancy taxes this year, and that number would only increase over time.
In fact, that number has already grown rapidly — from $21 million that Airbnb had estimated it would contribute in taxes to New York just nine months ago.
There’s just one catch: Before Airbnb can begin collecting and remitting those taxes, the state and local governments in New York would first need to create a new legal framework for it to do so. Airbnb is hoping New York lawmakers will follow those in San Francisco and Portland in that regard by creating regulations that make renting out your home legal in that market.
The latest letter follows a continued back-and-forth between Airbnb and regulators in New York, where it has come up against opposition from NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The Attorney General contends that as many as 75 percent of rentals on Airbnb are illegal under current law, and has sought to force the company to shut down illegal hotel operations on the platform.
The fight goes back nearly 18 months, when the AG’s office issued a subpoena requesting data about Airbnb’s host listings in the state. After a lengthy legal battle, Airbnb eventually agreed to hand over data about 124 hosts that had multiple listings.
The company and Attorney General have reached a bit of a detente, although the AG’s office declined to comment as its investigation is ongoing. After all, Airbnb has not attained legal status in New York and will need the help of state and local lawmakers for that.
Could $65 million in taxes help convince them? Only time will tell.
Hantman’s letter is below: