Tax on short-term rentals advances
Legislature seeks state’s OK to impose 2% charge on Airbnb-type lodging
The Ulster County Legislature has voted to ask the state for permission to levy the county’s hotel/motel tax on short-term rentals booked through websites like Airbnb.com.
The resolution passed 16-6 on Tuesday, even though there is no proposed local law pending before the Legislature to implement the tax should the state grant approval.
County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach in March first raised the prospect of cashing in on the short-term rental business by levying on those rentals the same 2 percent occupancy tax now charged to patrons of the county’s hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast establishments. He said he had struck a deal with Airbnb under which the online service voluntarily agreed to collect the tax on properties rented in Ulster County through the company’s website.
Auerbach estimated Ulster County would collect more than $200,000 from the firm in the first year.
But both legislative and county attorneys said the state law that allows the county to levy the bed tax didn’t extend to lodging booked on sites such as Airbnb.
On Tuesday, Legislator
John Parete said levying a tax on those rentals was “long overdue” but that the county was “putting the cart
before the horse” by asking for permission to enact something the county might not move forward.
During a Democratic caucus prior to the Legislature’s meeting, Parete, DBoiceville, said he had consulted with a lawyer outside
the county government and was told the same approval the state gave the county to levy its hotel/motel tax covers rentals through online sites as well.
“I don’t know what the point of this whole exercise is when we already have the
authority,” Parete said. “I think we should put a resolution in to charge the tax on these [other rentals].”
On the floor of the Legislature, Parete suggested there could be an ulterior motive for the way the matter was being handled, saying
“there’s more behind this delay than folks are talking about.” He did not elaborate.
Voting against the resolution, in addition to Parete, were: Kevin Roberts, RWallkill; Craig Lopez, R-Pine Bush; Manna Jo Greene, DRosendale;
Tracey Bartels, a non-enrolled voter from Gardiner; and Richard Parete (John’s son), a Democrat from Accord who caucuses with the Republicans.
Legislator TJ Briggs, DEllenville, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach has estimated the tax could generate $200,000 for the county in the first year.