Palm Beach County may tighten regulation of short-term rentals, squeeze out more tax

Commissioners gave preliminary approval to a proposal that would require Airbnb and similar platforms to report monthly on listed properties and remit bed taxes

An Airbnb-listed home in West Palm Beach
An Airbnb-listed home in West Palm Beach

Palm Beach County is considering tighter regulation of Airbnb and other online platforms that advertise short-term rental homes in the county.

County commissioners gave preliminary approval to the proposed rules and will consider final approval in October.

Hosts offering short-term rental homes already are required to register with the county tax collector’s office and to pay a 6 percent tourism development tax, also known as the bed tax.

The proposed rules would prohibit Airbnb and similar platforms from listing vacation rental homes unless they ensure that the home owners have registered their properties with the county and pay the bed tax.

The proposal also would require such platforms as Airbnb and HomeAway to file a monthly report with the county tax collector on each property listed as a short-term rental.

The monthly report for each listed property would include its address, its parcel identification number, the name of the owner, the total number of rental nights and payment amounts for each stay.

Fines for violating any of the new rules would range up to $500 per day.

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Airbnb would prefer to remit bed taxes on vacation rental homes in Palm Beach County without filing monthly reports on them, according to Tom Martinelli, Airbnb’s policy director in Florida.

Airbnb has agreements with 39 other counties in Florida to collect and remit local bed taxes. Airbnb currently has no such agreement with Palm Beach County and does not collect bed taxes on behalf of the county.

The online platform also has an agreement with the Florida Department of Revenue to collect and remit state sales tax on short-term rental income.

Anne Gannon, the county’s tax collector, is a plaintiff in a lingering lawsuit against Airbnb, HomeAway, Couchsurfing International and TripAdvisor over unpaid bed taxes.

The ongoing lawsuit, filed in 2014, alleges that the defendants are operating as unregistered providers of short-term rental homes and have failed to collect or remit the county’s bed tax on the rental income. [Palm Beach Post]Mike Seemuth