City of Steamboat Springs secures new tax agreement with Airbnb
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs city officials are praising a new agreement they’ve reached with popular vacation rental company Airbnb, which is poised to ensure more sales and lodging tax revenue from local bookings makes it into the city’s coffers.
Airbnb this month started collecting and remitting the required city sales and lodging taxes for all hosts in the city.
Before that arrangement, it was up to the hosts to obtain the required sales tax permit and collect and remit the proper amount of taxes.
But city officials said they don’t think all of the hosts were collecting and remitting the required taxes, and the city found it difficult or impossible to go after any hosts who weren’t in compliance.
That’s because Airbnb won’t share addresses or even the names of the hosts who use the service.
The city also doesn’t have the manpower to have someone constantly monitoring bookings and tracking down hosts who appear to be breaking the rules.
Finance Director Kim Weber said the new policy from Airbnb will help create a level playing field for people who list their properties on the short-term rental market.
“It’s a step in the right direction to get them into compliance with our local municipal code,” she said.
Weber did not have an estimate on how much tax revenue the city might have missed out on with Airbnb leaving it up to individual hosts to collect and remit taxes.
There have been more than 1,300 properties using Airbnb for bookings in recent years, according to a report from the company.
“It could be a substantial amount of revenue,” Weber said.
Weber said some cracks in the vacation rental system remain as the city doesn’t believe some users of other sites, such as VRBO, are collecting and remitting the proper amount of tax.
In recent years, the city has reached out to property owners who have been found to be out of compliance with the tax policies. But Weber said the city still lacks the resources to have someone dedicated to auditing the local short-term rental market.
Airbnb spokeswoman Laura Rillos said her company first started collecting taxes in 2014 in Portland, Oregon.
Steamboat Springs is now one of three communities in Colorado where Airbnb is collecting the taxes.
The applicable city taxes on vacation rental bookings in Steamboat include a 1 percent accommodations tax and a 4.75 percent sales tax on the listing price, including any cleaning fees, for reservations that are 29 days and shorter.
To view the city’s tax policy on short term rentals, click here.
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1. Short-term rentals are creating a problem in Colorado ski towns. Is there a solution?