Monday, January 7, 2019

Short-Term Rentals Will Get Hotel Tax Treatment Under Newly Enacted Massachusetts Law

Under a newly enacted Massachusetts law, short-term rentals in Massachusetts will soon be taxed at the same rate as hotels. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law in late December aimed at regulating short-term rentals. This new measure goes into effect July 1st, and requires all hosts to register with the state, carry insurance, and taxes them at the same 5.7% short-term rental tax that hotels currently pay. The new law is expected to bring in at least $25M annually for the state. However, hosts who rent their home fewer than 14 times annually are exempt from the tax. 

The most popular short-term rental website, Airbnb, is very unhappy with the decision and is already preparing to fight back. Airbnb Northeast Press Secretary Liz Debold recently released a statement expressing their disappointment in the "flawed bill" and stated that Airbnb will continue to fight for "hosts, guests, and local small businesses". Airbnb most recently filed a lawsuit in federal court in November to overturn another Boston short-term rental law passed last summer which would have required hosts to register and a pay a $200 annual fee.

This new law will bring several large changes to Massachusetts, which encompasses several regions especially popular for short-term rentals. Cape Cod, the Berkshires, and Boston are specifically very profitable regions for Airbnb hosts. Under the new law, Boston is permitted to add on an additional 6.5% tax on short-term rentals. Massachusetts will be the first state requiring short-term rental hosts to register with the state. This law has serious benefits for the safety and security of consumers who stay in Airbnbs. Hotel industry groups were especially pushing for the required state registry and were happy with the new law. Lawmakers believe this law will create a more balanced playing field between short-term rentals and traditional hotels, leading towards a more fair and practical system.

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