Popular home rental website Airbnb will start paying San Francisco's 14% hotel tax, addressing a key regulatory concern.
David Hantman, Airbnb's head of global public policy, said in a blog post that "we’ll soon be collecting and remitting taxes on behalf of our hosts in San Francisco."
The announcement follows Airbnb's agreement to start paying hotel taxes in Portland, Ore.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the move will potentially add millions of dollars of revenue to the city, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.
"We’re still working on some operational details, but our goal is to launch this program for San Francisco hosts this summer," Hantman said.
Airbnb allows people to rent homes, apartments, rooms or other living space at a daily rate to vacationers as an alternative to hotels. Many homeowners said the website allowed them to generate much-needed income; some even credited the site with allowing them to avoid foreclosure.
But cities from New York to Los Angeles have expressed concerns about private homes being treated as hotels, potentially causing traffic, noise, crime or other problems. Last year, prosecutors in New York said they were investigating whether the business model complied with state law.
In his blog post, Hantman said the tax issue is a gray area because "our hosts are not hotels and most of these tax laws were not designed for them."
"But whether or not we agree with the tax laws, we want to help our hosts follow the rules," he said. "It’s good for the government officials who won’t have to identify hosts and collect the taxes themselves: we’ll do the work for them. And it’s good for hosts who want to pay their fair share."
Follow Stuart Pfeifer on Twitter