State’s OK needed for lo­cal AirBnB tax

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

KINGSTON >> Ul­ster County law­mak­ers ap­pear ready to ask for state ap­proval to col­lect the county’s 2 per­cent ho­tel/mo­tel tax from home­own­ers who rent out guest space through such on­line ser­vices as AirBnB.

The re­quest for “home rule” author­ity was dis­cussed dur­ing a meet­ing this week of the county Leg­is­la­ture’s Ways and Means Com­mit­tee. Com­mit­tee mem­bers de­bated whether a pro­posed law is needed be­fore seek­ing the state’s per­mis­sion.

Sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of the tax said the pro­posal has been dis­cussed long enough that county law­mak­ers need to make a de­ci­sion on whether it should be en­acted.

“We’ve heard a lot of dis­cus­sion about peo­ple who need help with their homes,” said county Leg­is­la­tor Carl Belfiglio, R-Port Ewen. “It helps pay their mort­gage or it helps pay their ex­penses. I think it would be a good idea to put this (tax) on the ta­ble.”

Leg­is­la­tor Tracy Bar­tels said the county should draft a lo­cal law be­fore ask­ing the state to grant author­ity to col­lect the tax.

“I don’t think we’ve had the whole de­bate about whether or not we ac­tu­ally want it to hap­pen,” said Bar­tels, a nonen­rolled law­maker from Gar­diner.

Ul­ster County Comp­trol­ler El­liott Auer­bach has been push­ing for the county to start levy­ing its ho­tel/

mo­tel tax on rentals booked through Airbnb and sim­i­lar sites, say­ing such a move could gen­er­ate more than $200,000 per year.

County Leg­is­la­ture Chair­man Ken Ronk, though, has said he re­mains un­con­vinced the county has the le­gal author­ity to en­ter a deal with In­ter­net-based home­shar­ing plat­forms to vol­un­tar­ily col­lect a tax from users and pass it on to the county.

And county at­tor­neys have said the state law that al­lows the county to levy the bed tax doesn’t ex­tend to lodg­ing booked on sites such as Airbnb.

Still, at least five coun­ties in New York state al­ready have en­tered into vol­un­tary tax-col­lec­tion agree­ments with on­line rental sites, and nu­mer­ous other coun­ties are ne­go­ti­at­ing sim­i­lar agree­ments.

Airbnb, which says it car­ries nearly 60,000 list­ings for New York state rentals, has said it will file a law­suit chal­leng­ing the law.

In a re­lated mat­ter, Gov. An­drew Cuomo last month signed a state law that au­tho­rizes fines of up to $7,500 for list­ings that vi­o­late a 2010 state law for­bid­ding rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or ten­ant is not present.

Airbnb, which says it car­ries nearly 60,000 list­ings for New York state rentals, has said it will file a law­suit chal­leng­ing the law.

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