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Airbnb hosts’ hotel-tax obligations streamlined in S.F.

September 30, 2015

By Carolyn Said : sfgate – excerpt

San Francisco is making it easier for people who rent their homes to travelers to pay the city’s 14 percent hotel tax.

Hosts who rent exclusively via Airbnb are now free from red tape when it comes to the city’s hotel tax. Those who rent via other methods can report and remit hotel taxes annually instead of monthly. And all hosts now can apply online for business licenses — something that previously had to happen either via mail or in person.

“We want to let (hosts) know they can do business with us in a far easier way, with a new interface and Web portal,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “We are lessening their administrative burden.”

The moves by the Office of Treasurer & Tax Collector come as San Francisco beefs up efforts to enforce and simplify its new vacation-rental laws, most notably by creating a new Office of Short-Term Rental Administration & Enforcement. Critics who complain that the new law is unenforceable and that vacation rentals siphon permanent housing have placed Proposition F on the November ballot asking voters for much stricter limits on short-term rentals in private homes.

The city’s main portal for business owners, www.businessportal.sfgov.org, now has updated “plain English” language explaining the simplified tax rules, as well as links to a new tax-information site for hosts and a “starter kit” on complying with all city laws.

On Tuesday, Cisneros said that Airbnb, the largest site for San Francisco vacation rentals in private homes, with about 5,500 local listings, is now what the city calls “a qualified website company.” Among other things, that means it gives the city detailed information on each host’s rental history when it remits taxes — information that the tax department by law must keep confidential… (more)

Comment at the source. This article appears to be somewhat misleading. Why is Airbnb treated differently from the other hosts, or is the author confused? Some clarification is in order.
This is why people put ballot initiatives on the ballot. To get response for government. Not that is should dissuade people from voting for the initiative that solves more issues, but, this is a good first step on the part of City Hall to remedy an out of control situation. Prop F would also extend the rights of landlords to stop tenants from renting rooms without their knowledge or consent. And allow neighbors the right to address out of control situations. We still need Prop F.
Agreed with the idea that this streamlined application process should extend to other businesses as well.

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