New home sharing tax could generate $1.1 million for Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY – Airbnb now collects a home sharing tax on behalf of its hosts in Missouri as a part of an agreement it reached with the Missouri Department of Revenue earlier this year.

One Airbnb host said he hasn’t seen a change in the amount of bookings that he has received. He said users might not even notice the small increase in price.

“So far it hasn’t affected it. We are still getting bookings from now until June,” Gerardo Cornejo said. “Nobody has really brought up that extra tax, or the upfront fee that Airbnb is charging.” 

Ben Breit of Airbnb Midwest said the tax isn’t too noticeable and the company hasn't gotten many complaints about the slight increase in prices. He said it is because hosts set their own prices that can vary day to day. 

“We are applying to tax directly to the guest on the front end, so it would go up by a few bucks, not by much,” Breit said.

Effective Feb. 1, the agreement covers taxes assessed by the state, so cities or counties with their own separately accessed taxes must reach an additional agreement with Airbnb.

Each city is different, and Cornejo said it would be hard for him to know what to charge without Airbnb’s help.

“Jeff City is hard to compare to Kansas City, hard to compare to St. Louis. We don’t function on that level, so it’s done and it’s just easier to precede as far as us asking clients to pay more,” Cornejo said. “Now we just blame it on Airbnb. They charge it and it’s up to you if you want to stay or not.”

Breit said the company wants to reach tax agreements with states because of the burden that calculating taxes puts on hosts.

“It’s very thorough and borderline impossible for a regular person who’s not an accountant to figure out. That’s why this tax agreement is so important,” Breit said.  

In a press release the Midwest policy director of Airbnb, Laura Spanjian, said while the company is still working with municipalities it acknowledges the company’s growth in Missouri.   

“Home sharing is introducing a whole new world of travelers to the authenticity of Missouri while offering new economic opportunities for thousands of middle class Missourians,” Spanjian said.

Airbnb hosts in Missouri earned $28.9 million in supplemental income in 2017 with 289,000 guests using the service.

In 2017, Columbia hosts generated the most income in Mid-Missouri with $1.1 million in total income.