To Tax or Not to Tax, There Should Be No Question 

Taxation without regulation. That’s where the short-term rental debate stands in Massachusetts, but they need to dig a little deeper.

According to Airbnb, not typically known for sharing accurate information with regulators or the public, the company had about 592,000 guests in Massachusetts last year. A column in The Boston Globe reports that, “had those stays been subject to the state’s hotel tax rate of 5.7 percent, that would have added an estimated $15 million to the Commonwealth’s coffers.”

The column goes on to describe how Airbnb “is happily sharing these calculations because it wants to be taxed,” but “don’t think for a second that this is some kind of benevolent new-economy thing. Guests, not Airbnb, pay the tax!”

This is a standard Airbnb move at this point. Toss money at lawmakers and hope they avoid regulation.

Meanwhile, a bed-and-breakfast is subject to “20 pages of municipal regulations, from fire codes to licensing, while a condo owner listing a room on Airbnb is not.”

Should Airbnb units really be exempt from following common sense health and safety standards like smoke detectors and fire escapes or having appropriate insurance coverage to protect their guests?

There’s no question.