May 25, 2017

Roanoke council waits to talk to Airbnb before considering tax on homestay businesses



Photo of LG Smartphone with Airbnb logotype on the screen. Selective focus.
Copyright: gyddik / 123RF Stock Photo

Roanoke City Council is hoping to work with Airbnb before it considers ways to collect lodging taxes from overnight guests who chose to stay in less traditional accommodations.

Right now, those who book rooms inside strangers’ homes through sites like Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO aren’t required to pay the 8 percent occupancy tax that they would if they stayed in a hotel.

The city council held a public hearing Monday on an amendment to the tax code that would change that by rewriting the definition of a hotel to include so-called “homestay” businesses.

Acting City Manager Brian Townsend argued the new definition is needed to level the playing field and protect the city’s tax revenue in the new digital age.

The council ultimately decided to delay action until city officials are able to contact someone with the California-based Airbnb.

City officials believe they will be able to arrange those conversations sometime soon.The unanimous vote to postpone came after Councilwoman Michelle Dykstra raised concerns about how these taxes would be collected.At a hotel, she said, guests can see taxes that were added to their bill when they check out.But on Airbnb, visitors don’t have to interact or exchange money with the homeowner. Instead, the website […]

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