Problem with City of Berkeley occupancy tax collection Dec 14, 2017 23:24:54 GMT
Post by High Priestess on Dec 14, 2017 23:24:54 GMT
A problem with Berkeley tax collection - regarding length of stay
What I've heard from a host who was in contact with Airbnb about the matter, is this: even though in the city of Berkeley, the law states that a short term rental is anything less than 14 days, and thus, it would seem that by definition, taxes should only be applied to stays of less than 14 days, and even though a person staying over 14 days gains tenant's rights (per rent control laws in Berkeley), Airbnb is now charging occupancy taxes on all Berkeley stays from 1 to 29 days long. If you go to your listing (preview listing) or any Berkeley Airbnb listing, and look at it as the guest sees it, and enter dates of a hypothetical stay over 14 days long, you'll see that there is a charge for occupancy taxes. Eg stays from 15 to 29 days long are being charged occupancy taxes.
As far as I can see, this is incorrect and contradicts the definition of short term rental. If a guest stays over 14 days, then per the definition in the Short Term rental law itself, it's not a short term rental, and hence, it is wholly exempt from the STR law, including the requirement to pay occupancy tax.
Refer to the city of Berkeley's Short Term Rental law
"Short-Term Rental Transient" or "STR Transient" means any person who rents a Dwelling Unit, authorized Accessory Dwelling Unit or Accessory Building, or portion thereof, for less than 14 consecutive days. (Ord. 7521-NS § 1 (part), 2017)
Per the STR law, taxes should only be collected on stays from 1 to 13 days long...or possibly 1 to 14 days. But not for stays over 14 days long! Yet...here's the confusion....when I go to the City of Berkeley website to search for info on this, I find that even though a short term rental is defined as less than 14 days, on the page for "Transient Occupancy taxes" it states that those staying over 30 days are exempt from the tax. So...what have hotels been doing all these years? Have they been paying transient occupancy taxes on hotel guests who stay between 14 and 30 days?
Curious about this, I just called up two hotels in Berkeley, the Double Tree Hotel and the Quality Inn on University, and both of them said that their hotel guests had to pay occupancy taxes for all stays up to 30 nights in length. Only with stays of 30 nights or more do the taxes go away.
So then how is a short term rental defined as less than 14 nights? Wouldn't it be less than 30 days, as in other cities? And how can you allow rent control and tenant's rights to kick in at the 14 day mark, when the guest is still paying occupancy taxes from 14 days to 29 days, as if they are a short term renter? Which It seems there is a contradiction/conflict between these two things. Either a 29 day stay is not a short term stay, in which case there should be no taxes applied, or it is a short term stay, and taxes apply but the Berkeley STR law as written does not apply to it, since as written it only applies to stays over 14 days long.
I would be interested to see what happens if anyone cares to take up this issue with either Airbnb or the city of Berkeley.
As a secondary matter....
Strangely, and I think inappropriately, the City of Berkeley's Short Term Rental tax form that they want hosts to fill out to send in and pay taxes with, appears to calculate tax on hosts' total gross income, regardless the length of the stay of their guests. This is most certainly incorrect. As you can see on the form, they are taxing the total "gross income for occupancy of rooms", and yet, suppose a host had, in a given month, a guest who stayed for a 31 day stay...the city's form would apply occupancy taxes to that.