Dozens of New Tax Agreements Signed by Airbnb

Airbnb reached more deals with dozens of different jurisdictions across the U.S. and France related to collecting and paying taxes, as it doubled down on an effort of improving its image with policymakers as it faces challenges across the globe with regulators.

Airbnb, the rental service offering short-term accommodations on a website where property owners rent rooms or entire homes, has collected more than $240 million in occupancy and hotel taxes since being founded during 2008, and remitting them to jurisdictions where the business had agreements, said a spokesperson for the company.

The tax agreements that are most recent, formally announced Tuesday by Airbnb, came in eight counties and cities in the U.S., Texas and 31 cities across France, adding up to 275 new agreements in all.

The taxes says Airbnb are charged at the same rate as hotels pay, and will be collected starting May 1 for the most recent agreements. Over half of the listings in the U.S. for Airbnb are in localities where the company collects then remits taxes, said the company spokesperson.

A spokesperson for the comptroller of Texas said that Airbnb had approached the state with an offer to pay the taxes.

The spokesperson said the state looked at that as the most effective way of bringing the people into compliance with taxes than going after the thousands of homeowners.

Texas became the 20th state in the U.S. to have a deal in place with Airbnb. Seeking more agreements with states allows Airbnb to avoid local politics in places where it comes up against opposition.

It remains unclear what success Airbnb will have in collecting as well as remitting the taxes it pledged because many of the agreements are not even a year old.

However, critics of these deals questioned how officials in these localities could have sufficient data on the host of Airbnb to verify the amount of tax each should be paying.

The push by Airbnb to address the tax issue has helped weaken one argument the hotel industry has made against it its growing presence in big cities.

However, the tax deals have not kept critics quiet related to worries that Airbnb, which has been valued at over $31 billion, created more housing shortages and brought traffic that is unwanted into many neighborhoods.

Airbnb said that in 2016 it collected over $19 million worth of taxes in the city of San Francisco, $7 million for San Diego and $3 million for Chicago.

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