30 May 2018

Auckland Airbnb hosts sound warning on tax

6:35 pm on 30 May 2018

Airbnb says its hosts are happy to pay the new tax proposed by Auckland Council - but the hosts themselves say it could force some of them out of the sector.

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Photo: AFP

This comes after a Deloitte report showed that Airbnb guests pumped an estimated $660 million into the country's economy last year.

The report into the economic impact of the accommodation rental website found three quarters of guest spending was on services and goods other than accommodation.

About 1.4 million people stayed with Airbnb last year, two-thirds of them overseas visitors.

Figures from Statistics NZ and a survey of Airbnb guests found 22 percent of what guests spent around the country was at restaurants, cafes and bars.

A fifth of the total spending went to leisure activities such as entertainment and museums.

Guests in Auckland spent the most, splashing out $200 million, followed by those in Queenstown, who spent $89 million last year.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said alternative accomodation provided by Airbnb was welcome in Auckland, but hosts needed to pay their fair share of the bed tax.

If a proposed tax in the council's budget goes ahead, homeowners would have to pay a visitor accommodation rate to the council, which is based on how much of the year they rent their place out.

Properties rented out for more than six months of a year will be treated like businesses and charged up to $7200.

"The Airbnb income offsets the income that we get from the traditional industry," Mr Goff said.

"So the fact that Airbnb is playing its part actually is a benefit to the other hoteliers and moteliers."

Airbnb's head of policy in Australia and New Zealand, Brent Thomas, did not think the tax would put hosts off.

"Our hosts want to live in a world where they are supported to do their home-sharing...and they want to pay their fair share," he said.

"Usually when you look at a tourism tax it's only a very small percentage of a guest fee."

Tax is 'ridiculous' - Airbnb hosts

Some Airbnb hosts have hit back at the proposed tax.

Ruth Paler's west Auckland home is empty now the kids have all grown up and left.

She rents it out on Airbnb for just over $90 a night for two people, which she said was enough to make a bit of extra money, but that did not come without costs.

"There's not a huge profit there," she said.

" put a lot of effort into cleaning and the amenities from toilet paper to milk [all cost]."

As far as Ms Paler's concerned, it's a rate on top of her existing rates.

"We already pay $3000 for rates [and] on top of that they're going to put rates on Airbnbs - it's just ridiculous," she said.

Winnie, who helps to manage an Airbnb in east Auckland, said the tax could force hosts to rethink putting up their house for rent.

"Most of them, they will just take back their house for their own use," she said.

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