Thune’s Gig Economy Bill: A Step Toward Leveling the Playing Field

We’ve written before about the glaring issues that Airbnb has with paying taxes. New legislation proposed by Senator John Thune (R-SD) this week seeks to level the playing field by requiring companies that operate in the so-called “sharing economy” (including Airbnb) to report the earnings of millions of people.

This would be a big improvement. Currently, Airbnb prefers to operate in the shadows of the sharing economy, signing secret backroom “voluntary collection agreements” with localities to avoid paying its full and fair share of taxes.

Thune’s bill would place the burden – rightly – on the company, not the host, to track and report taxable earnings.

Of course, Thune’s legislation comes a year after Democratic senators Schatz, Warren and Feinstein expressed their own concerns to the FTC about illegal hotels operating on the website.

It might not be so surprising that illegal hotels are a unifying force across the political aisle, given the results of a recent national poll showing that 91% of Americans believe that individuals and companies using short-term rental sites to run a business should be required to follow local and community zoning, health and safety rules.