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Airbnb customers visiting Charlotte begin paying sales, occupancy taxes June 1

Allyn Meredith stands in the room she rents out in Durham on the Airbnb online platform, in a photo from earlier this year. Meredith has been an Airbnb host since November 2011. Airbnb said this week it would begin collecting and remitting sales taxes in North Carolina beginning June 1. It will also collect hotel occupancy taxes in Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham and Buncombe counties from guests renting rooms.
Allyn Meredith stands in the room she rents out in Durham on the Airbnb online platform, in a photo from earlier this year. Meredith has been an Airbnb host since November 2011. Airbnb said this week it would begin collecting and remitting sales taxes in North Carolina beginning June 1. It will also collect hotel occupancy taxes in Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham and Buncombe counties from guests renting rooms. vbridges@newsobserver.com

Consumers booking rooms in Charlotte through Airbnb, the fast-growing home-sharing service, will be paying sales and hotel occupancy taxes beginning in June.

Airbnb, which connects property owners with guests for short-term stays, said this week it would begin collecting and remitting sales taxes in North Carolina beginning June 1. It also will collect hotel occupancy taxes in Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham and Buncombe counties from guests renting rooms.

In Mecklenburg County, that means Airbnb guests will pay the 7.25 percent sales tax along with the 8 percent room occupancy tax.

The only other state where Airbnb collects taxes from guests statewide is Oregon. In the past year, the company also began collecting taxes in several cities, including San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Malibu and San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Amsterdam.

“For more than a year, we have been working with cities and counties across the country to add more communities to the list of places where we can help hosts collect and remit hotel taxes,” Airbnb public policy manager Max Pomeranc said in a statement.

Martha Connerton rents out a room in Charlotte through Airbnb for about $50 a night, which means her customers would pay a tax of $7.62.

The extra 15 percent can be a “big, hefty chunk,” she said. “The burden’s falling on the people who are traveling.”

Hotels are likely to embrace the new taxation policy, said Tom Murray, CEO of Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

“The industry is disrupted from time to time with innovation, and it has to adapt,” Murray said. “It takes some time for government to adapt as well. I think we’re all pleased that we’re getting those processes cleared.”

Will the added taxes dissuade consumers from booking Airbnb rooms? Probably not, Connerton said.

“I’m not super happy about it, but I still feel like I can charge far less for a room than any hotel room anyone would want to stay in,” she said. “I charge 50 bucks a night, but what other hotel can do that?”

Alexis Bell, who rents out in Charlotte through Airbnb, said Airbnb is not just about getting a generally lower price, but an experience that traditional hotels might not offer.

“It’s really more the feel of a bed and breakfast,” she said. “It’s really impactful for people who are coming in from another country. You get a very different experience from people using hotels. It’s not just the price, but the experience as well.”

In Raleigh, short-term-rental owners in certain residential zones have been penalized for renting their rooms through Airbnb. Charlotte has not challenged any Airbnb rental sites on zoning grounds, said Melony McCullough, an area planning coordinator for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Pomeranc, the Airbnb official, said the company has worked with cities across the country to create clear rules, and will continue to work with North Carolina officials. The (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.

About Airbnb

Airbnb, founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, serves more than 25 billion guests in more than 34,000 cities. In late 2014, the company was valued at $13 billion.

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