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.