The Ins and Outs of DC’s New Airbnb Tax

by Lark Turner

The Ins and Outs of DC's New Airbnb Tax: Figure 1
One of DC’s first Airbnb rentals, a Shaw carriage house.

Last week, Airbnb announced that it would start levying a hotel tax on the company’s rentals in DC.

Airbnb, which allows people to rent out their homes (or rooms in their homes) for short-term stays, has been making similar moves in other cities as it works to operate in less of a legal gray area. The increased fees are no doubt a bummer for travelers and hosts as it will make Airbnb rentals more expensive. But from the DC government’s perspective, Airbnb was making good on what it owed.

Though the 14.5 percent tax that will be tacked on Airbnb rentals starting in mid-February is known as the hotel tax, the city’s deputy chief financial officer Stephen Cordi told UrbanTurf it’s actually a sales tax levied at a specific rate on “transient accommodations.” So whether or not you think your Airbnb rental is technically a hotel, it doesn’t matter; if it’s being rented out to travelers for a short-term stay, it’s subject to the tax.

About a third of the tax will go toward a fund that helps finance costs associated with DC tourism: the Washington Convention and Sports Authority. The logic behind the tax is that tourists should help pay for services they frequently use, like the operation of the convention center. The rest of the tax will go to the city’s general fund.

Cordi said Airbnb reached out to the DC government about three months ago to start working out the details. The company’s action wasn’t all that unusual, he said.

“It’s routine business for us to be contacted by taxpayers if they feel they have an obligation to collect or pay DC taxes,” Cordi said. “It happens every day.”

When it happens, the company and the government typically work out the tax rate and whether or not the company owes anything in back taxes for previous operations. Cordi wouldn’t comment on whether or not Airbnb paid back taxes and if so, how much. It’s “part of the negotiation,” he said.

See other articles related to: airbnb taxes, airbnb dc

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/airbnb_makes_good_on_taxes_with_the_dc_government/9483

1 Comment

  1. ghielder@gmail.com said at 5:06 pm on Wednesday February 4, 2015:
    I wonder if AirBnB is trying to obey this part of law to see if they can get away with breaking the rest of the law? Or, are they going to do something about the fact that most hosts are not operating with the appropriate licenses and permits? And I'd really like to know what they're going to do about the illegal hotels that are reducing the availability of housing and driving up housing costs. If these guys are going to be serious about operating above board, they're going to have to do something about the loss of affordable housing.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »