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Airbnb Strikes Tax Deal With Mayor of Miami-Dade, Fla.

Airbnb will begin collecting the 3 percent convention tax from hosts in Miami Beach as part of the county tax deal.

by Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald / March 20, 2017

(TNS) -- In an effort to bring Airbnb under some of the same regulations its competitors in the hotel industry face, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has reached an agreement with the popular home-sharing platform to collect county resort taxes.

Under the agreement, Airbnb will collect the 6 percent Miami-Dade resort tax from its hosts and remit that money to the county every month. If trends continue, that would amount to at least $8 million a year for the county, said Benjamin Breit, an Airbnb spokesman.

The agreement largely excludes Miami Beach and Bal Harbour because each city has its own resort tax set at 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively. However, Airbnb will begin collecting the 3 percent convention tax from hosts in Miami Beach as part of the county tax deal.

$8 million Estimated tax revenue from Airbnb under the county's proposed tax agreement

Surfside, the third municipality in Miami-Dade with its own resort tax, reached a deal with Airbnb in January, and has been collecting taxes from local hosts since March 1.

The new agreement is contingent on county approval, said Michael Hernández, Gimenez's communications chief. Deputy Mayor Edward Marquez is working to find a sponsor for the item to put it before the County Commission as soon as Tuesday.

The tax deal would be effective as soon as the county votes to approve it, Hernández said.

The deal would mark Airbnb's 36th county agreement in Florida, and a major step toward the company's goal of securing agreements with all 63 counties in the state that have a resort tax.

The agreement largely excludes Miami Beach and Bal Harbour because each have their own resort taxes at 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively. However, Airbnb will begin collecting the 3 percent convention tax from Miami Beach hosts as part of the county tax deal.

Miami-Dade is an Airbnb powerhouse, and among the top five markets in the country for the site. In 2016, 6,800 locals were hosts on the platform, responsible for bringing in 530,000 tourists, according to Airbnb data.

Breit said the arrangement with Miami-Dade facilitates the tax process for platform hosts who will now pay their "fair share in taxes."

"This marks an important day in the history of our company and we look forward to working with Chairman [Esteban] Bovo and the county commission to ratify this deal on behalf of our host community," Breit said in a statement. "We expect that this agreement will drive many millions of dollars in new annual revenue to county coffers, on top of the economic infusion Airbnb guests already pump into the South Florida economy through spending with neighborhood merchants."

Airbnb began securing tax deals in Florida in December 2015, beginning with an agreement to collect the state resort tax of 5 percent. Pinellas County was the first to reach an accord with the platform, and other major counties have followed, including Orange, Hillsborough and Lee.

Broward County does not have a deal with Airbnb.

Mayor Gimenez's office indicated a deal might be reached earlier this year, but the agreement stalled over discussions on how Airbnb would pay the county, Hernández said. Still, the mayor expects the tax deal will be only the first step toward more regulation of Airbnb.

Mayor Gimenez's concern is you have another disruptive, technology-based company [like Uber] coming into Miami-Dade County offering it's services but not paying the same level of taxes and fees that established industries, like our hotel and visitors industry, have been paying for decades. Michael Hernández, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's communications chief

"Mayor Gimenez's concern is you have another disruptive, technology-based company [like Uber] coming into Miami-Dade County offering its services but not paying the same level of taxes and fees that established industries, like our hotel and visitors industry, have been paying for decades," Hernández said.

The agreement also only regulates taxes and is independent of additional measures other cities in the county have already taken or plan to take against Airbnb.

Miami Beach increased its fine against residents who host short-term rentals in areas not zoned for them -- which is all single-family homes and some multi-family buildings -- to $20,000 last March. Now, renters have been fined a combined $5 million. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and all six city commissioners have opposed reaching any kind of agreement with Airbnb.

In Miami, Mayor Tomás Regalado is proposing an ordinance that would make short-term rentals largely illegal and create a set of strict regulations for renters in legal areas. The ordinance will come before city commissioners Thursday.

Ahead of that, Levine and Regalado will have a meeting Monday morning to discuss "community concerns" about Airbnb.

(c)2017 Miami Herald