Gearing up for summer, Jersey Shore homeowners are fighting Airbnb tax on short-term rentals

March 12, 2019

Asbury Park, NJ; via Wikimedia

A surcharge on short-term rentals took effect last October in New Jersey, making it one of the first big states to implement such a tax. An 11.6 percent tax, dubbed the “Airbnb tax,” applies to properties rented for fewer than 90 days made on home-sharing sites or directly between a renter and homeowner, excluding deals arranged through a broker. But as homeowners gear up for the summer season in the coming months, owners of Jersey Shore rental homes say the tax has made it harder to fully book their properties ahead of beach season, the New York Times reported.

New Jersey joins other states in its attempt to regulate Airbnb, which was valued at $31 billion in 2017. In New York City, a federal judge in January blocked a law signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio that aimed at curbing illegal short-term rentals by requiring Airbnb to disclose names and addresses of its hosts to the city.

The home-sharing company filed a temporary injunction against the law, which U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer granted because he said the law was likely unconstitutional. In January, the de Blasio administration filed a lawsuit against a group of brokers, accusing them of using Airbnb to illegally rent out apartments in a Kips Bay building, as well as 34 other Manhattan buildings.

In Long Beach Island, homeowner George Triebenbacher told the Times he’s had trouble fully renting out his seven properties. Usually, at this point in March, Triebenbacher’s homes would be rented for the summer. But this year, after some reservations were canceled, he still has about one-fourth of his rental weeks available.

“People are actually canceling and forgoing deposits to get away from the taxes,” he told the Times. “There’s no question that there’s all kind of upheaval being created by this tax.”

Opponents of the tax have formed the non-profit NJ Shore Rentals Coalition to lobby state lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy to leave out Jersey Shore rentals from the tax. The group argues the Airbnb tax makes vacationers spend less at the Shore, which would be “devastating to the local economy,” the coalition’s website reads. According to the Times, four Jersey Shore counties accounted for more than $20 billion of the $43 billion spent on tourism in the state two years ago.

The group has helped crafted legislation that has been introduced in both the State Assembly and Senate that would call for a “shore rental” exemption to the current tax law. Both bills are currently sitting in committee.

Notably, Airbnb supports the tax. “Home sharing is bringing economic opportunity to families and businesses in every corner of the Garden State,” Josh Meltzer, who oversees public policy for the site, told the Times in a statement. “We are excited to be able to support core state and local services from Jersey City to the Jersey Shore.”

[Via NY Times]


Correction 3/13/19: The tax applies to properties rented for fewer than 90 days, not 14 as was originally reported. 

Tags: Airbnb
Location: New Jersey

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