Montgomery County

Montgomery County inks deal with airbnb

Castle owner: I don't like it
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Airbnb, a website that enables short-term property rentals, has inked a deal to remit hotel and motel taxes to Montgomery and Broome counties. 

Airbnb previously struck similar deals with 23 of New York’s 62 counties. Company officials said Airbnb has remitted more than $1.7 million in hotel and motel room tax revenue since reaching the first agreement with Tompkins County in July 2016. 

In a news release Wednesday, the company said it supports a bill before the state Legislature that would enable Airbnb and similar online platforms to collect and remit taxes statewide, eliminating the need for county-by-county deals.

 “We hope this latest agreement will also serve as yet another clear example of the economic potential of home sharing in every corner of the Empire State,” said Josh Meltzer, head of New York Public Policy for Airbnb.

Airbnb officials estimated a statewide law enabling it to collect and remit taxes could bring in $100 million in revenue for the state. The proposed legislation, which has the bill numbers A7520 for the Assembly and S7182 for the state Senate, would also address safety concerns some people have with the home sharing service by requiring a a 24/7 hotline for concerned neighbors and requiring that hosts carry a minimum of $250,000 in insurance.

Nigel Ghotbi, who owns the 21-unit Amsterdam Castle, said his hotel uses major online booking hubs like Expedia.com, Travelocity.com and booking.com, and he isn’t sure whether any of those sites list his rooms on Airbnb.

He said the state recently changed its policy to allow online booking agents like Expedia.com to collect all of the state and local taxes on hotel bookings, which he does not like. He said he would prefer to collect the 4 percent tax due to Montgomery County and pay it himself, because allowing the bigger online companies to collect the money means they get to hold it for a year and collect interest on the taxes paid before remitting them to the state, which the hotels could otherwise do, if allowed.

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“I think it will cost more in terms of accounting, more liability to the county and to the state, because we’re relying on some other company. For example, what if Expedia goes bankrupt? We’ll end up owing so much to the state, because they won’t pay it,” Ghotbi said. “I would absolutely, 100 percent prefer to hand it over myself, and every hotel will tell you that.” 

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said he is glad the county got the deal done with Airbnb.

“I applaud our county treasurer, Shawn Bowerman, who started the process with Airbnb back in April,” he said. “Now, (as of Aug. 1) if an individual books a room through Airbnb, the county will receive the 4 percent bed tax on that room rental. While we won’t know fully what the impact will be until a few months, any additional revenue for tourism and economic development projects in our county is very positive.”
 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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