Editorial: To promote visits, Airbnb should pay lodgers tax, too - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: To promote visits, Airbnb should pay lodgers tax, too

Airbnb has taken off in New Mexico as a popular choice for lodging, just as Uber and other ride-sharing companies have for transportation.

According to Airbnb, the online platform where people can rent out rooms, apartments or homes to vacationers and others, there are about 1,500 hosts in the state. And more than 57,000 people used Airbnb in New Mexico in 2015. That’s because, increasingly, people like having choices at a variety of price points and accommodations.

Santa Fe and Taos, popular tourist destinations, have reached agreements with Airbnb to collect lodgers’ taxes from renters and pass them on to government entities to promote tourism and business activities. Now, Albuquerque innkeepers and hoteliers are calling for the city to require Airbnb hosts to pay lodgers’ taxes, just like they do.

Charlie Gray, executive director of the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association, says the Airbnb industry has grown too big to ignore. Gray cites a Wall Street Journal story that said that, in the third quarter of 2015, Airbnb racked up $2.2 billion in bookings internationally. And the company recently announced it has agreements with 190 cities, states and jurisdictions around the world to collect and remit lodgers’ taxes.

Albuquerque’s ordinance requires hotels and lodging establishments to pay a 5 percent lodgers tax on the rate charged to guests. Hotels also pay a 1 percent hospitality fee under a separate ordinance. At this point, the innkeepers’ board has talked about imposing only the lodgers tax, but Gray said it likely would want Airbnb hosts to also charge the hospitality fee.

In fiscal 2015, the city collected $11.4 million in lodgers taxes, and half of that went to advertising and promoting tourist attractions, facilities and events. Revenue from Airbnb hosts would increase the money available to promote the city.

While private homeowners should not have to abide by the full collection of regulations inflicted on public business sites, the idea of collecting the same taxes innkeepers pay to promote the hospitality business has merit. When more people come to New Mexico, they spend money and add to our economy.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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