Saratoga County hotels want Airbnb occupancy tax to level playing field

January 10, 2019 06:39 PM

Saratoga County hotels say they want to level the playing field with Airbnb and other rentals. They're pushing for Airbnb guests to pay an occupancy tax just like hotel guests.

In nearly every neighborhood, you'll find an Airbnb or other rental property. There were 830 of them listed on the website in Saratoga County on Thursday. The stays often come with the comforts of home, but they don't come with an occupancy tax.

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"They're not paying tax. They're not contributing to the community," said Darryl Leggieri, the president of Discover Saratoga, the convention and tourism agency that attracts big conferences to town.

Occupancy tax paid by hotel guests pays to market Saratoga to the world. He says Airbnb guests need to do the same.

"There are many people that like to experience a destination through Airbnb and we don't want that to go away. We just want to level the playing field," said Leggieri.

Embassy Suites General Manager Dan Fortier says it was easier to fill the 149 rooms before Airbnb and other rentals. He says it's time to make rental properties register and their guests to pay the tax. He says regulating Airbnb and others will make them safer and collecting a bed tax on their guests will help attract more to town.

"There's a lot of money -- especially just here in Saratoga County, being left on the table that could be helping promotion for the region," said Fortier.

Ryan McMahon, the executive director of the City Center, says rental properties reap the rewards of the tourism promotion, but don't help pay for it.

"The Airbnb people are really benefiting from something the hotels are funding and they're taking away from the hotel business. That's not a level playing field," said McMahon.

To start collecting bed tax on rentals requires county and state approval.


Mark Mulholland

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