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Clarenville Town Council to decide whether or not to tax Airbnbs

Are all B&Bs created equal?

It’s a discussion that arose at the Clarenville Town Council meeting on Tuesday, July 31.

With the popularity of Airbnb, a community driven vacation and home renting service, JALA B&B in Clarenville attended a recent Finance, Administrative and Planning committee meeting to discuss the issue of taxing the bed and breakfasts like Airbnbs.

Finance chairman Councillor Paul Tilley told council at Tuesday’s meeting they’re looking at the matter regarding taxing and regulations.

“If you’re registered as a bed and breakfast in Clarenville you are subject to fire regulations, taxation, certain safety provisions, these sort of things,” explained Tilley. “So the public have reasonable assurance that the town has done due diligence with that. And in turn for that the bed and breakfast does contribute to the town.”

He goes on to say that Airbnb is not regulated.

“When we looked at it, if you were to go on Airbnb website right now, you’d find in excess of 60 Airbnb facilities here in Clarenville — I could rent my house, you could rent your house, you could rent a room in your house,” he says.

With these measures, none of the other regulations like fire safety are necessarily applied. It is also not taxed by the town, an advantage over the registered Airbnbs.

Tilley says if they were to subject the Airbnbs to the same regulations as the registered bed and breakfasts, they would first have to identify them all. Then they would ensure they meet the same standard as the other B&Bs in the municipality.

“That would be in the interest of the users and in the interest the taxpayers and the established units,” he said.

As far as how labour intensive this would be and if it is worth it, town clerk Angela Giles says not all the listings are registered as B&Bs, but it has been an issue for bigger centres.

“And because our municipal taxation for business tax is on a mill rate it’s very difficult to regulate it if we want to collect it through Airbnb because they collect on a percentage basis only,” said Giles. “So, basically, we would be billing the owner.

“It could get quite complicated.”

She adds that some communities they’ve contacted have begun taxing Airbnbs and others have said it’s not worth it.

Clarenville council decided to address the issue in the future.

Jonathan.parsons@thpacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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