The state is now trying to make sure non-traditional online travel companies- like Airbnb- pay their fair share of hotel taxes.
Last year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 109, and it took effect in January. On Wednesday, the Butler County commissioners approved the new legislation at the county level.
The new law mandates that all internet booking agents- including Airbnb, Orbitz, and HomeAway, pay a 5 percent hotel tax to the county where their property is located. That’s the same percentage that hotels, bed and breakfasts, and cabins are required to pay.
Butler County Treasurer Diane Marburger said up until this point, the county had an agreement with Airbnb where they voluntarily paid hotel taxes, which averaged between $900 and $1,500 per month, depending on the time of year.
“We had a voluntary agreement with Airbnb. A lot of counties didn’t have that. I thought ‘something is better than nothing,” Marburger said during a meeting Wednesday.
However, even with this new law in place that mandates payment, Marburger told the commissioners it’s getting increasingly difficult to police online travels companies to ensure they are paying because many people will use them to randomly rent out rooms in their homes to guests, and it’s hard to keep track of.
“When internet booking agents don’t pay, that’s lost revenue for the Butler County Tourism Bureau,” Marbuger said.
Of the hotel taxes that are collected in Butler County, the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau receives 96 percent of them, while the county takes the other 4 percent.
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