It’s time for the province to ensure online booking platforms like Airbnb collect required taxes

rentWith municipalities from Tofino to Nelson and Whistler struggling to limit the negative impacts of online booking services like Airbnb on affordable and local worker housing stock, it’s time for the provincial government to close a tax loophole that is aggravating the problem.

That’s why I’ll be taking a motion to council tomorrow — it will be debated at the June 28 meeting — to call on the province, through the Union of BC municipalities, to close a loophole that is allowing the new online booking platforms to avoid collecting taxes now paid by existing operators.

The province already requires anyone offering four or more units for short-term accommodation, whether they own the units or are acting for others, to collect Provincial Sales Tax and Municipal and Regional District Tax (Hotel Tax).

But this rule is not being enforced for online platforms like Airbnb, which should clearly be covered.  Our motion, if endorsed at the UBCM’s September convention, will tell the province it’s time to act to enforce these tax laws in an even-handed way.

Here’s the text of the motion:

TAX FAIRNESS FOR ONLINE ACCOMMODATION BOOKING PLATFORMS

 WHEREAS the explosive growth of online accommodation booking platforms is forcing many BC municipalities, large and small, to take urgent action to protect affordable housing stock for long-term residents; and
 WHEREAS Ministry of Finance regulations currently provide that anyone offering four or more units, on their own behalf or on behalf of another owner, must collect and remit Provincial Sales Tax and Municipal and Regional District Tax (Hotel Tax); and
WHEREAS the Ministry of Finance has so far not applied this regulation to online booking operators, creating a tax advantage for those offering rooms or suites online with negative consequences for housing affordability and existing accommodation operators;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Vancouver, through the UBCM, call on the Provincial Government to ensure tax fairness and a level playing field for online accommodation booking platforms by collecting all applicable sales taxes at point of purchase on daily private room rentals.