Airbnb’s ‘Don’t Ask, We Won’t Tell’ Tax Plan

A new Airbnb report claims its tax deals with cities across the U.S. will send their tax revenue “soaring.” But just imagine if the company actually paid its fair share of taxes? Now that would be something worth reporting.

In Airbnb’s view, the only way for cities to collect the revenue it promises is to let the company collect and remit taxes on behalf of its users. Airbnb’s terms. Airbnb’s rates. Airbnb’s way or the highway.

Airbnb cites how their tax payments go toward supporting progressive policies and programs like Chicago’s support affordable housing and aid for the homeless. What the report doesn’t say is how the company fought the city of Chicago every step of the way, including funding a massive (and futile) negative attack ad on city leaders.

Airbnb says its Voluntary Collection Agreement tool was established “to ensure that proper taxes are collected and remitted while relieving hosts of onerous tax filings and governments of the burden of collection and enforcement.”

Ah, yes… the onerous burdens of collecting the actual amount owed, rather than the lump sum figures Airbnb claims are appropriate based on its own mysterious data – data that’s still not transparent to the public or government officials.

In 2016, when Airbnb’s head of global policy Chris Lehane told the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “Read my lips: we want to pay taxes” it seems like what he meant was “We want to throw arbitrary amounts of money at you so you’ll leave us alone.”