Airbnb Shifts Tourist Tax to Guests, Not Hosts

Tourists will now have to pay a roughly 11 percent tourist tax when they use Airbnb

Starting Wednesday, the popular short-term rental website Airbnb is changing the way it charges tourists in San Diego.

Anyone who books a stay on Airbnb in San Diego will now pay a tourist tax of about 11 percent -- a 10.5 percent transient occupancy tax and 0.55 percent tourism district assessment tax.

Until now, the hosts were supposed to pay the city tourist taxes, but not everyone followed or knew the rules.

Valerie Kearney rents out her Mission Beach condo on Airbnb. She told NBC 7 the new change is a win/win for the city and the hosts.

“We live in a big city; we need taxes," she said. "Obviously there’s the proper way of developing it, but at this point I’m going to say it’s a good thing.”

Kearney is unlike some other Airbnb hosts because she’s been paying her taxes all along.

“I did follow the rules. I’m sorry, I’m an ex-teacher!” she said.

There are thousands of San Diegans who list their homes on the Airbnb website, but the revenue associated with short-term rentals this fiscal year is a fraction of the overall revenue from the transient occupancy tax.

NBC7 reached out to the city of San Diego for comment, and a spokesperson sent us this statement:

"Today’s AirBnB decision to now collect the 10.5% Transient Occupancy Tax and the .55% Tourism Marketing District assessment is good news for the City of San Diego, its residential communities and Airbnb hosts advertising short-term rentals. The City of San Diego is pleased that Airbnb is taking steps to come into compliance with existing City regulations regarding future collection of TOT and the TMD assessment."

In fiscal year 2015, revenue associated with short-term rentals totaled $6.8 million out of $185 million in overall TOT revenue. Currently, the short-term rental revenue impact of Airbnb collecting on behalf of their hosts is unknown. The Office of the City Treasurer will continue to seek resolution of owed back taxes and remains in discussions with Airbnb."

While no regulations specifically about short-term vacation rentals are on the books in the city, some Airbnb hosts have been cited for violating municipal codes.

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