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Vancouver wants province to tax Airbnb rentals like hotels

Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs is calling on the provincial government to tax Airbnb and other short-term rental services as if they were hotels.

Meggs will present a council motion Tuesday that argues online accommodation booking platforms like Airbnb should be charged provincial sales and hotel taxes.

“We’re really just saying it’s time for this to be done across the board,” Meggs told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

“And I hope that it would produce some decline, actually in the number of people who are taking rental housing in particular and putting it out there short term and pushing our rents up and our vacancy rates down.”

The motion says Ministry of Finance regulations obligate anyone renting out four or more hotel units to pay provincial sales tax and municipal and regional district tax which can be up to three per cent and is supposed to “provide funding for local tourism marketing, programs and projects.”

However, the motion says, the Ministry is not enforcing these regulations on online booking operators, “creating a tax advantage for those offering rooms or suites online with negative consequences for housing affordability and existing accommodation operators.”

Meggs says while enforcing the rules on people with four or more short-term units is a priority, he thinks they should be applied to someone even renting out a single room.

“If a lot of those [listings] are in existing rental housing, which I have no doubt they are, they’re taking stock away from residents and turning them over to tourists. And I think that’s problematic,” he said.

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