Airbnb
Amy McKeever
August 25, 2015

Airbnb has announced that it will begin collecting tourism taxes in Paris, its largest market, after having reached an agreement with the French government. Starting October 1, the home-sharing start-up will charge a line item of €.83 per person per night spent in the City of Light. It’s an administrative change, but with some significant consequences.

Though hosts have always been responsible for paying taxes on their income from renting rooms, Airbnb has long been criticized for its hosts who didn’t—or weren’t aware they had to—pay those taxes. This new process shifts the tax-paying burden from Airbnb hosts to the company itself, which will submit the fees it collects straight to the Paris City Hall as part of the city’s tourist tax and administrative district tax.

Airbnb has moved aggressively to make these agreements with local governments. Last year, the company began collecting taxes in Portland and San Francisco, later expanding out to San Jose, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Malibu, San Diego, and Amsterdam. Once the policy is Paris is implemented, Airbnb says that it will be extended to other cities in France. Today’s announcement is especially significant as the French capital is Airbnb’s largest market for home sharing in the world, with more than 50,000 listings.

And there’s a larger aim in mind, as Slate pointed out earlier this year. “[Airbnb] hopes that formalizing its relationship with tax collectors is the first step toward gaining broader legal acceptance.” Essentially, the idea is that this cooperation on taxes will create enough goodwill with local lawmakers to forestall greater regulation. VentureBeat notes that today’s news underlines a distinction between Airbnb and its sharing-economy brethren over at Uber, which has often taken a more combative approach to skeptical local governments.

Today’s announcement in Paris follows the French government’s passage last year of new legislation permitting home rentals, which Airbnb described at the time as “a major step forward.” The company cited that legislation in today’s announcement, where director of Airbnb France Nicolas Ferrary added in a statement,  “We are grateful for our strong relationship with the French Authorities and are proud to launch this simplified tax process in our number one city.” 

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