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County strikes deal on Airbnb taxes

The county and the rental company have ended a standoff over the collection of tourist development tax revenue, officials announced today.

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  • | 2:43 p.m. April 3, 2017
  • Sarasota
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At the end of last year, Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates was suggesting the county could join a lawsuit against the rental company Airbnb.

Four months later, any legal battle has been successfully averted. Today, county and Airbnb officials announced they reached an agreement regarding the collection of tourist development tax funds from properties rented on the website.

“This agreement levels the playing field for all short-term rentals in Sarasota County by requiring Airbnb to collect and remit the Tourist Development Tax,” Ford-Coates said in a statement.

Sarasota County properties listed on Airbnb generated approximately $355,000 in tax revenue in 2016, according to the company’s data.

One point of contention between the county and Airbnb was the collection of back taxes for renters who were not in compliance with local regulations. The agreement allows the county to collect those back taxes, according to Assistant Tax Collector Sherri Smith.

“Our 700-plus Sarasota County hosts want to pay their fair share in taxes, and we want to help,” Airbnb Florida Policy Director Tom Martinelli said in a statement.

Another sticking point was whether Airbnb would share information on property owners using the website. Smith said Airbnb is withholding some information, but that the company agreed to share that information if a property owner refuses to comply with the county’s regulations.

Smith said most renters are happy to comply when they are informed of the tax laws. Many Airbnb renters were already voluntarily contributing their tourist development tax obligations.

Smith said the tax collector’s office is working on education and outreach to bring even more properties into compliance.

“We try our best to educate everybody that if they are renting, they need to come forward and they need to do the right thing,” Smith said. 


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