Hawaii Governor David Ige wants to veto a bill that would allow Airbnb to collect and remit taxes on behalf of our community. These regulations are supported by state legislators, including the Governor’s own tax department, and for good reason. This law would make it easier for everyone to pay their fair share, which is something we can all agree on.
Internet advocacy groups, tax experts, and travel and hospitality industry stakeholders, including the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, the Hawaii Tax Foundation, the Internet Association, the Consumer Technology Association, and more are urging Governor Ige to reconsider his intent to veto a bill that would generate an estimated $100 million in revenue (with $15 million from Airbnb alone) to the Aloha State. Here is some of what they’re saying:
Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association
It has been a long-held goal of our association, and our top legislative priority, to establish a level playing field for all visitor accommodations, from the traditional hospitality businesses to the alternative accommodations offered online. There are an estimated 25,000 alternative accommodations in the Hawaiian Islands competing with hotels, resorts, timeshares, and bed-and-breakfasts, except that the majority of these are most likely avoiding our 9.25 percent transient accommodations and general excise taxes. Rather than outlaw these transient vacation units, we believe the state and county governments should collaborate on collecting the millions of dollars in taxes now being avoided.
Vetoing HB 1850 won’t fix the problems with Act 204, and would instead only have the effect of going back to status quo: individual operators across Hawaii would be responsible for remitting complicated taxes designed for hotels on their own, and DOTAX would again be left to separately enforce against these thousands of individual operators with constrained resources.
Home sharing has been an important part of Hawaiʻi’s economy for decades. H.B. 1850 has the potential to put Hawaiʻi in a better position than ever before to effectively and efficiently collect taxes from transient rentals, while reducing the potential for legal challenges regarding Act 204. The Internet Association supports H.B. 1850 and encourages you to allow the measure to become law.
Tax Foundation of Hawaii
This bill presents an opportunity for the same logic and policy considerations to apply to
transient vacation rental (TVR) activity operating through transient accommodation brokers such
as AirBnB, Flipkey, Homeaway, and VRBO, except that the stakes may be a little higher because TAT as well as GET is being collected. This bill would appear to be necessary or desirable to enhance the Department’s collection ability given the limited resources available for all of state government including the Department.
Consumer Technology Association
The bill remains a significant priority for many of our innovative member companies operating in Hawaii. Specifically, H.B.1850 would allow internet homesharing businesses like Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and others to collect and remit taxes on behalf of their users. This would be a win for the state and a win for your citizens who use these platforms. Hawaii would gain additional tax revenue, and users of home sharing platforms would have a simple mechanism to ensure that they are meeting their tax obligations.