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Airbnb Hosts: Your Next Message Might Be L.A. Reminding You To Pay The Hotel Tax

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Los Angeles is finally aiming to take its cut of the sharing economy when it comes to Airbnb and other home sharing sites. At Monday night's city council meeting, officials told staff to begin messaging hosts on Airbnb and similar sites to tell them about one of life's two certainties: in this case, taxes. If you are the host of a short-term rental, you are supposed to be collecting a "transient occupancy tax," Mashable reports. This tax is a California tax that applies to rentals in which the tenant stays less than one month, and it is 14 percent of the rent charged. This is a tax that hotels already collect from guests, then pay to the city. The funds are then used for things like police and other community services.

In a statement, Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said that hosts who sign up for Airbnb agree to "comply with local rules, including tax laws, before they list their space." He also mentioned that the site has a hosting responsibilities page on their website that explains local regulations, including those specific to L.A. This section will let you know if you need a business license, zoning rules and it does mention the transient occupancy tax.

The statement continued, "Home-sharing helps countless hosts pay their bills and make ends meet and we look forward to continuing to work with leaders in Southern California and around the world."

However, Councilman Paul Krekorian said that it "may very well be that a lot of these folks are just not aware that they even have the obligation to pay."

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Assistant City Attorney Beverly Cook said that L.A. can't legally require Airbnb to help them collect the hotel tax, even though the landlords are legally obligated to pay, L.A. Times reports. Krekorian said he's interested in working with the sites to find a way that the websites can help the city collect.

Because these sites do not list a host's exact address for safety reasons, staff will have to message hosts to let them know. If a host isn't quite sure if they owe taxes, they can use the city's Office of Finance website to search their address and see if it's within city limits. (This is actually pretty handy for a lot of things, including figuring out your councilperson, what day your trash is collected and other details.)

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