Short-term rental tax passes Senate

The senate's proposed budget would tax short term rentals, such as Airbnb rentals on the Island. —Stacey Rupolo

The State Senate recently passed a $40.8 billion budget that includes a tax on Airbnb-type short-term rentals.

“The Senate’s proposed budget would put a 5 percent excise tax on short-term rentals, and allow cities and towns to collect a local-option tax of up to 6 percent, or 6.5 percent for Boston,” Fall River’s Herald News reported.

In an email to The Times, Tisbury planning board chairman Dan Seidman said the tax is justified. “Airbnb acts like a hotel; transient, short-term rentals. But it has an unfair advantage versus traditional hotel and motels because it is not regulated,” he said. “If folks want to act like a hotel/motel, they should pay the same taxes as those other entities, and be required to meet the same standards. Of course, anyone can rent their home for up to 14 days a year. That is in the IRS tax code. Beyond that, it should be a level playing field.”

Mr. Seidman, who is also on the board of the Island Housing Trust, said that channeling the proceeds of the tax to local municipalities would be beneficial.

“[I do] not believe it has been determined where, if funds are raised via a room tax, where those funds would go. It would be great if they went to the respective towns’ municipal housing trusts. It could then be reinvested in the community to create housing that is affordable,” he said.

State Representative Dylan Fernandes has also come out in favor of the tax. In a statement sent to The Times prior to the state Senate’s vote, he argued that the tax will help support Island infrastructure and services.

“I support leveling the playing field between hotels and motels and short-term room rentals — colloquially known as the Airbnb tax,” he said. “Airbnb supports the adjustment as well. Tourists who visit the Vineyard drive on Vineyard roads, flush Vineyard toilets, and call Vineyard police when they are in trouble — it is only fair that they contribute a very small portion back to help pay for the local services they use.”