The Real Deal Miami

Miami-Dade to FlipKey and HomeAway: Where’s the tax money?

County sues online short-term rental firms and their parent companies for not collecting resort taxes
By Francisco Alvarado | November 27, 2018 04:30PM

(Credit: iStock)

Miami-Dade County is knocking hard on the doors of FlipKey and HomeAway in an attempt to collect untold millions of dollars in unpaid resort taxes.

In two separate lawsuits filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court at the end of October, Miami-Dade accuses FlipKey and HomeAway of not forcing property owners who list on the short-term rental platforms to pay their share of bed taxes. The complaints also name FlipKey’s parent company TripAdvisor and HomeAway’s parent company Expedia as defendants.

A Miami-Dade spokesman said the county does not comment on pending lawsuits. Representatives for TripAdvisor and Expedia did not respond to emails requesting comment.

According to the complaints, FlipKey and HomeAway are in violation of a county ordinance that requires third-party providers to collect three separate bed taxes totaling 6 percent from individuals and companies that rent properties on a short-term basis. As a result, Miami-Dade has lost millions of dollars in tax revenue, the complaints allege, though the county does not state a specific dollar amount.

Miami-Dade alleges both companies refused to reveal the identities of property owners who use the platform, and have rejected an offer to enter into a collection agreement with the county. Meanwhile, TripAdvisor and Expedia recently entered into collection agreements with Broward County, the lawsuits state.

Miami-Dade enacted its bed tax collection for short-term rental platforms in April 2017  as part of several measures to reign in the short-term rental industry. The same year, Miami-Dade passed an ordinance capping occupancy limits for vacation and short-term rentals in unincorporated Miami-Dade to 180 days per year. Under the new law, hosts are also required to sign up for a certificate of use, register for a business tax receipt, screen for sexual offenders and enforce some rental standards on guests, such as following standard garbage procedures and noise restrictions.

Airbnb, the nation’s largest short-term rental provider, has collection agreements with Miami-Dade and Broward that remitted more than $12 million to both counties through June 2018.