Airbnb hosts get hunted down for Manatee tourism tax. Does it cost taxpayers too much?
MANATEE FL - The Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office refuted claims that it might be leaving money on the table when it comes to collecting tourism taxes from short-term rentals.
According to Michele Schulz, the director of fields services and collections, her team uses everything from boots on the ground to third-party vendor technology that identifies rentals that haven’t registered yet by scouring ads and listings.
There are 40 Florida counties that have entered an agreement allowing Airbnb – a popular website that allows homeowners to rent out their property to guests – to automatically remit the tourist development dollars, but Schulz argued they don’t have to sign such an agreement because, “we’re doing it right.”
In an attempt to “change the narrative,” Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr. and his staff met with the Board of County Commissioners at a Tuesday morning workshop to walk them through all the processes they have in place to collect tourist taxes.
In January, commissioners agreed that it was time to take another look at their position on Airbnb tax collection. In a March report, county staff reviewed Airbnb listings and found “many homes and condos being marketed in the Bradenton area that are probably not registered with the Tax Collector.”
But that assessment wasn’t accurate, Schulz said. On Jan. 31, the tax collector’s office used software to determine that of the 350 online bed and breakfast accounts they located, only six of them hadn’t registered for tourism tax remittance.
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