Lawmakers are considering a measure aimed at ending the imposition of the so-called AirBnB tax on beach house rentals, just weeks before the summer tourism season kicks off.
Senate Bill 3158, which the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee approved in a 5-0 vote on May 13, is worded in a way that the levy would apply only to AirBnB. Under current law, enacted as part of the 2019 budget package, the tax hits all short-term rentals, including beach house rentals.Proponents of S3158 argue that the effect on beach houses was unintentional.
The 11.65 percent tax was to be levied against any rental under 90 days. Summer rentals typically last a week, so language was written into the law providing that the tax would not be charged on rentals booked through a licensed real estate broker.
But few summer rentals are done via brokers anymore, according to the Jersey Shore Renter’s Coalition. Instead many people – both homeowners and renters – get together via online outlets such as Facebook and Craigslist or through word of mouth.
The tax often amounts to hundreds of dollars, which could reduce what tourists spend in local economies.
Duane Wallington, a member of the Renter’s Coalition who owns a house on Long Beach Island, told the Senate committee that many owners still have several weeks of vacancies because of the new tax, whereas in years passed they would be completely booked by mid-May for the entire summer.
“We’re seeing it right now with the bookings not happening. If people don’t come to the shore, they’re not going to spend money on the shore, on the businesses,” Wallington said
Anthony Pizzutillo, the owner of Pizzutillo Public Affairs, who accompanied Wallington on Monday, said the legislation would still allow renters and property owners to conduct business as usual by advertising the properties on Facebook or word of mouth.