Airbnb has announced it will begin collecting tourist tax in Paris, the most popular city for home sharing on its platform, starting from October 1 — after which the remittance collection will be gradually expanded to cover the other cities where the platform operates in France.
According to Airbnb there are currently more than 50,000 Airbnb listings on its platform for Paris.
The move follows a change to the law in France last year, under the Bill ALUR, which simplified the legal framework for short term home sharing.
From the hosts point of view, the change will mean hosts no longer have to collect and remit tourist tax themselves, removing a little friction which might have discouraged Parisians from listing their home. From the customer point of view, Airbnb users booking a stay in Paris in future will see a €0.83 per person per night charge, for the category: “meublés touristiques non classés”.
Last December Airbnb announced it had agreed a similar tourist tax collection agreement in Amsterdam, which came into effect this February. It has also agreed tax remittance schemes in San Francisco, Portland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Malibu, San Jose, San Diego and Washington D.C.
“Figuring out how the different tax rules apply can be a challenge and we’re moving forward quickly and carefully,” an Airbnb spokesman told TechCrunch. “This isn’t a matter of merely flipping a switch and it takes time, but, as you can see, we’re committed to expanding this program.”
Airbnb’s measured tones and careful approach to working with policymakers invites a contrasting comparison with ride sharing firm Uber’s brash operational style. The latter’s accelerated expansion has triggered a wave of protests, some violent, by taxi unions in European cities (and elsewhere). And, most recently, resulted in two senior execs in Uber’s French business being arrested, accused of running an illegal taxi company.
That’s not to say the hotel industry has remained entirely silent in the face of upstart competition from Airbnb. But the latter’s less incendiary tone has presumably helped prevent tensions from rising a la Uber — even as the latter’s gun-ho tactics in seeking to railroad through local opposition have generated far more political heat.
Albeit, the really big difference is more likely that Airbnb’s business is demonstrably generating local tax revenue which individual cities can benefit from. Whereas Uber stands accused of attempting to minimize how much tax it pays locally. (An accusation it denies.)