Protecting Paradise: New Bill Could Rein in Hawaii’s Commercial Operators

Two bills are currently under review in Hawaii’s legislature. Both are designed to let short-term rental companies like Airbnb collect taxes on behalf of their users.

The difference? Only one of them actually holds Airbnb accountable for its commercial operators renting out multiple units full-time and exacerbating Hawaii’s already challenging affordable housing issues.

H.B. 1471 instructs Airbnb to collect taxes from its users, directing the collected revenue toward various state funds before divvying it up among the state’s counties.

H.B. 1470 would also instruct Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of users, but according to West Hawaii Today, the legislation “puts in place several additional legal requirements, such as requiring host platforms to report operator information in tax returns and requiring platforms to remove listings that don’t comply with local and state laws.”

In addition, H.B. 1470 “limits operators to a single rental property and caps the number of days a property can be rented at 60 days a year.”

Importantly, on top of state-mandated taxes, H.B. 1470 would actually help alleviate the problem of rising housing costs and homelessness in Hawaii by adding a “surcharge equal to 4 percent of the gross annual or leasing charge” that would go toward homeless services.

If legislators put the concerns of the communities they represent above the interests of illegal hotel operators, the choice is clear.

Both bills will generate revenue for counties across the state, but only one will protect affordable housing and assist Hawaii’s homeless population.

We urge legislators to support H.B. 1470.