Over the past few years, Airbnb has been working with local lawmakers and regulators on ways that it can comply with local hotel tax and housing laws. Those efforts have been slow-going, as its public policy team has more or less had to work with each individual city to do so.
But things are speeding up. Today the company announced that it will soon begin collecting and remitting tourist taxes in four new cities: Amsterdam, San Jose, Chicago, And Washington, D.C.
Airbnb will begin collecting taxes in Amsterdam and San Jose, Calif. beginning tomorrow, and will expand that to Chicago and Washington, D.C. on February 15. That follows earlier announcements that it would collect taxes in Portland, Ore. and San Francisco.
So far the company says it has collected and remitted $5 million for those two markets since introducing those taxes just a few months ago. It’s releasing that number in part to show how much money other governments are missing out on by not working with it yet.
While Airbnb could theoretically begin collecting taxes in any market, there are often legal hurdles in doing so. In some places, like San Francisco, the company needed laws passed that would legitimize the business it operates in those cities.
That’s the case in New York, where the company has been engaged in a long-running fight with the NY Attorney General’s office. NY AG Eric Schneiderman has been pressing the company to shut down what the state views as illegal hotel operations, but under current law they estimate that 3/4 of listings on the platform would be deemed illegal.
For its part, Airbnb is asking to have the laws changed, and is attempting to sweeten the pot by estimating it would collect $65 million in taxes in New York. It just needs the local government to create a framework under which it would be able to legally collect and remit those taxes.