West Coast
City of Half Moon Bay, CA

Half Moon Bay goes after Airbnb operators who dodge tax -- No estimate on amount of money city has lost

Half Moon Bay, California -- The city of Half Moon Bay is tightening its enforcement to collect taxes from short-term rental owners who use the popular listing service Airbnb.

Last week, City Council approved a collection agreement with Airbnb to authorize the website to collect and remit transient occupancy taxes from renting hosts within the city. Prior to the agreement, it was up to the property owner renting a unit to pay the city’s 12 percent TOT tax.

“It is impossible to know how much revenue we lost,” said City Manager Bob Nisbet.

In an effort to hold accountable people renting property as a short-term rental accountable, the city hired HdL Companies in May 2017 as a third-party to collect TOT filings. The objective was to short-term rentals in the city and offer owners amnesty to come forward and register to begin filing their TOT returns on a quarterly basis.

The company, which the city pays no fees to use, also identifies and contacts unresponsive or operators who are delinquent with TOT to fulfill their tax obligations to the city.

“It is doubtful anyone paid the TOT tax (before HdL was hired),” said Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester.

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