Bill would set framework for collecting taxes on short-term rentals

Bill would set framework for collecting taxes on short-term rentals

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A bill advanced in the legislature Tuesday which aims to make sure short-term rentals do not skirt newly approved taxes.

In the French Quarter, some believe illegal short-term rentals are changing the quality of the historic neighborhood. The rentals are more obvious in some neighborhoods than others.

"The fact that they have displaced actual residents starts to erode the neighborhood," said Meg Lousteau of the Vieux Carre' Property Owners, Residents & Associates.

There are many such rentals in the French Quarter and Treme, and Lousteau said other historic areas are being affected, as well.

"The problem isn't short-term rentals, the problem is illegal short-term rentals," she said.

Legitimate bed and breakfast operations say they're being seriously undercut by people who rent illegally.

"We just need taxation of this particular part of the industry," said bed and breakfast owner Janice Delerno.

In the recently ended special legislative session which was called to address the state's perpetual fiscal issues, state lawmakers gave a final approval to a bill requiring the charging of taxes for lodging booked through short-term rental sites.

"In New Orleans, our neighborhoods are protected by zoning that says that residential areas are for residents, places where people live and what these illegal short-term rentals do is they come into neighborhoods and instead of residents living in a home you have transients, visitors living in the home," said Lousteau.

And now more legislation affecting short-term rentals is before state lawmakers. A bill by Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, sets the framework for collecting the taxes from hosts of fee-paying guests. Under HB 722, registration would be required with the State Department of Revenue.

"We said that the larger online companies that offer short term rentals collect the money for short-term rentals that we would set guidelines during this legislative session as to how they would remit their taxes over to the Department of Revenue," Moreno said.

Representatives of convention and visitors bureaus around the state say people renting out rooms benefit from their outreach to tourists without contributing financially.

"Short-term rentals are benefiting from this marketing but not paying for it like traditional hotels and B&Bs," said Miriam Cox with the Louisiana Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Our community of hosts want to pay their fair share and we want to help. Collecting and remitting hotel taxes can be incredibly complicated. The rules were designed for traditional hospitality providers and large hotel corporations with teams of lawyers and accountants. We are working with lawmakers to voluntarily collect and remit hotel and tourist taxes on behalf of our hosts and guests," said an AirBnB spokesperson.

AirBnB is currently collecting and remitting taxes on behalf of hosts in San Francisco, Portland, and has worked with officials on similar initiatives in states including Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Arizona, and Rhode Island.

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