Airbnb to collect hotel taxes in San Francisco

Starting this summer, the online vacation rental service plans to collect and remit taxes on behalf of hosts.

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Airbnb San Francisco
Screenshot by CNET

Airbnb, the online peer-to-peer vacation rental service, announced Monday it plans to start paying hotel taxes in San Francisco this summer. The move comes less than a week after news that the company will do the same in Portland, Ore.

Although the details are still being worked out, the company said its "goal is to launch this program for San Francisco hosts this summer."

Airbnb said it will collect and remit the taxes on behalf of hosts in San Francisco, where the hotel tax is 14 percent.

"We have repeatedly said that we believe our community in San Francisco should pay its fair share of taxes," David Hantman, Airbnb head of global public policy, wrote in a blog post. "We know from countless discussions with our hosts that they want to pay taxes, but some of these rules are arcane and difficult to follow. Some hosts have even tried to pay taxes in San Francisco and been turned away."

The company has tangled with officials from some cities because of tax issues and local laws that prohibit short-term rentals of residences.

"Of course, we don't always agree with governments about what sales and occupancy taxes are owed under the law, if any. Our hosts are not hotels, and most of these tax laws were not designed for them," Hantman wrote.

"But whether or not we agree with the tax laws, we want to help our hosts follow the rules. It's good for the government officials who won't have to identify hosts and collect the taxes themselves: we'll do the work for them. And it's good for hosts who want to pay their fair share," he said.

The company, founded in San Francisco, announced earlier this month it will open a customer service center in Portland, which will serve as its North American operational headquarters.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Airbnb was looking to raise $400 million to $500 million in a funding round.

CNET News has contacted Airbnb for more details. We'll update the story when we hear back.