Airbnb’s Trouble with the Tax-man

What Airbnb says: “We want to pay taxes; we want to give back to the local communities and pay our taxes, just like hotels do.”

What Airbnb does? That’s another story.

Airbnb is valued at over $25 billion. It can afford to pay its fair share of taxes. Yet in cities and states from coast to coast, the company is doing its best to cut deals that don’t reflect its true tax burden.

Before we can even get to Airbnb’s actual tax burden – the taxes their illegal hotel operators should pay if they were held to the same tax standards as the hotels and inns that they compete with – we have to talk about the fact that there is almost zero transparency in the data Airbnb provides.

Last year under duress, the company staged a massive data dump of its New York listings, but it was later revealed by Inside Airbnb, an independent, third-party researcher, that just before releasing the data, the company scrubbed over 1,500 listings for illegal hotels or commercial operators.

Airbnb tried to paint a rosy picture of its New York numbers and ended up with egg on their face. Just imagine how bad it is in other cities around the country with even fewer local regulations.