comscore House committee approves bills on vacation rental taxes | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

House committee approves bills on vacation rental taxes

  • AIRBNB / ASSOCIATED PRESS

    This screen grab taken from the Airbnb website shows search results for vacation rentals in Hawaii. Legislators aim to pass measures to allow the state to increase tax revenue from vacation rentals, such as those listed on Airbnb.

A state House committee on Tuesday passed two bills that would allow the state to collect more tax revenue from Hawaii’s proliferating vacation rental and bed-and-breakfast properties while the counties figure out how to regulate them.

The bills would allow vacation rental websites such as Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of short-term rental operators who list their properties online. Operators must currently pay their own taxes.

State House Tourism Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Onishi said he’s aiming for legislation that would collect taxes and make sure short-term rentals are legal under both state and county law.

Airbnb and an internet industry representative testified against one bill that would require websites to take down rental listings that fail to comply with local laws. They argued federal law does not require websites to police user postings.

Hotel companies and unions testified in favor of this bill.

The measures must still be heard by other House committees. State Senate committees are considering similar bills.

Each of the state’s counties has different rules for short-term rentals. But Honolulu County has not issued new permits since 1989 even though such places are increasingly popular with travelers.

Hawaii Tourism Authority data from last year show 7 percent more visitors stayed in vacation homes in Hawaii last year compared with the year before. That outpaced the 3.5 percent increase in visitors staying in hotels.

Only about 800 short-term rental properties on Oahu have permits, even though thousands of such properties are advertised online.

Gov. David Ige vetoed similar legislation last year out of concern it would facilitate illegal rentals. He said encouraging people to rent to visitors instead of residents could exacerbate Hawaii’s severe housing shortage and homelessness crisis.

Ige spokeswoman Cindy McMillan said it was too early to comment on specific measures this year. She said the governor’s main concern is that many vacation rental owners may not comply with county land-use laws.

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  • Bwaahahaa. Only in Hawaii can the state collect taxes on activities that are considered illegal by the county. It doesn’t get much better than this, folks.

  • How about allowing all short term rentals which temporarily rent to a “local” resident who just needs temporary shelter until he finds something permanent?

  • B&B rentals should be taxed at the same rate that hotels and resort properties pay plus the fines for not having permits. Maybe that will slow them down.

  • Gov. David Ige vetoed similar legislation last year out of concern it would facilitate illegal rentals. He said encouraging people to rent to visitors instead of residents could exacerbate Hawaii’s severe housing shortage and homelessness crisis.—Landlords have a responsibility to themselves to seek the most revenue from their properties which are expensive to own (property maintenance, repairs and taxes). With ever increasing property taxes and higher cost of maintenance it is no wonder that many landlords seek these types of arrangements. What our government does is contradictory. They raise property taxes while speaking from the side of their necks about working on making housing not affordable. How’s this for a concept? Raising property taxes results in higher rents. Instead of building more so-called adpffordabke housing, how about giving tax breaks to the landlords who offer affordable housing? Of course, the whole intention is to get more taxes, not make housing affordable. Therein lies the bottom line.

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