Kamloops hotels and motel association thinks AirBnB users should be paying tax | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops hotels and motel association thinks AirBnB users should be paying tax

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December 05, 2016 - 9:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - A group representing local hotels and motels wants the city to support a proposal to help level the playing field for competitors like Airbnb.

In a letter to city council, Joey Beltrano, president of the Kamloops Accommodation Association, is asking for the city’s support in repealing a part of the provincial tax code he says is causing problems due to the growth of short-term residential rentals.

“Residents who offer fewer than four rooms for rent do not have to collect provincial sales taxes when renting those accommodations,” he says in the letter. “This exemption has created an unclear business environment, and made it all but impossible for municipalities — even those with stringent bylaws targeting short-term rental accommodations — to effectively enforce the rules.”

The properties he takes issue with are the small, short-term rentals using applications like Airbnb. While people using Airbnb do offer alternatives to hotels and motels and are likely direct competition for members of Beltrano’s association, it’s a different issue he says he’s concerned about.

“The vacancy rate is often near zero, and in some cases we have lost potential employees due to this chronic rental shortage,” he says in the letter. “Making matters worse, there are no indications this trend will change in the year ahead.”

He points to a variety of issues in regulating the often unregulated Airbnb properties.

“One of the challenges is that these agencies are not subject to the same regulatory, legal, taxation, health and safety, or insurance laws as traditional accommodation providers,” he says in the letter.

Because the operations are so small, they’re exempt from provincial sales taxes. Beltrano wants to see that exemption cancelled and is looking for support from council. He states cancelling the exemption will encourage operators to register their revenue properly and allow government to bring them in line.

City development director Marvin Kwiatkowski says that while the vacancy rate is near 1.1 percent for Kamloops, he’s heard of no complaints to the city about short term accommodation causing problems. Airbnb lists 36 properties in the Kamloops area, ranging from a room in a townhouse with students at $24 to a whole home at more than $1,250 a night. AirBnB does automatically collect a service fee when a place is booked, but not taxes.

Council will decide how to respond, or not respond, to Beltrano's letter tommorow, Dec. 6.

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