Manatee County

Judge dismisses Manatee lawsuit against Airbnb

MANATEE COUNTY — A judge this week dismissed Manatee County Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr.’s lawsuit against Airbnb regarding the collection of local resort taxes on vacation home rentals.

In April 2018, Burton’s agency sued the online vacation rental service regarding the identification of homeowners who use it to rent their properties or rooms in their properties to visitors staying no more than six months.

The county uses the 5 percent tourist development tax to pay for beach renourishment, various events and venues that attract visitors and promotions of the community as a tourism destination.

Burton interprets the county ordinance establishing the tax as requiring all owners of vacation rentals to be identified. He argued that his staff is entitled to check the records of a registered “dealer” to verify they are collecting and submitting the correct tax amount.

Airbnb does not disclose the address of a host client’s home unless a booking is made.

It has negotiated agreements with other counties to collect and submit resort taxes on behalf of its hosts. Burton, however, refused that offer, insisting he is legally required to know their identities and addresses.

In the ruling signed Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Ed Nicholas agreed with defendants Airbnb Inc. and Airbnb Payments Inc.’s motion that the litigation should be tossed based on a decision in a case filed by the Palm Beach County tax collector against Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and others.

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