Airbnb tax wins Vancouver Island support, but questions linger

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Airbnb announces it will collect provincial tax for B.C – Feb 7, 2018

Tourism operators in Victoria are giving the thumbs-up to a deal that would see the province collect PST from Airbnb.

Finance Minister Carole James announced the plan on Tuesday, saying it would collect about $16 million per year.

On top of the eight per cent PST, Airbnb guests will also be charged a three per cent municipal and regional district tax.

READ MORE: If you rent an Airbnb in B.C., you may be about to pay 11 per cent in taxes

Paul Nursey, president and CEO of Tourism Victoria, said it appears B.C. is getting a better deal than Quebec did with the 3.5 per cent Airbnb tax it implemented last year.

“First of all we’re happy the government’s been listening to the tourism industry’s concerns about untaxed and unregulated short-term vacation rentals,” he said.

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“It’s both the sales tax and the tourism marketing tax so it’s actually two levels of tax, so it’s gone a lot further than the Quebec agreement.”

LISTEN: Airbnb joins hotels as a taxable business

Nursey said it’s now up to the federal government to get onboard with a GST for short-term vacation rentals.

READ MORE: Vancouver approves new regulations for short-term rentals like Airbnb

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne also applauded the deal, but said it’s also time to get cracking on similar companies that are just as popular.

“Certainly VRBO is a big player in the Tofino area, with whole home rentals mostly,” she said.

“I think that they should be subject to the same types of agreements and rules that any hosting platforms like Airbnb is.”

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READ MORE: Make Airbnb pay for illegal Vancouver rentals, campaign urges city

Osborne said there’s also work to do for municipalities, who need to find ways to monitor posts on Facebook and Craigslist.

“They should be collecting taxes on behalf of their customers because that’s what other property managers or booking agencies would have to do,” Osborne added.

Tofino, a community of about 2,000 people and a popular vacation destination, was one of the first municipalities in B.C. to begin cracking down on unlicensed short-term rentals.

Municipal bylaws require would-be hosts to show a business licence number with any ad on an online platform.

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