Airbnb hosts must pay hotel room tax

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Dee Fagan’s home is the epitome of charm and character.

“I welcome all my guests with a little sign each night,” she says, pointing to a sign that welcomes ABC27.

But it takes more than that to run her bed and breakfast in Mechanicsburg. Fagan showed us her occupancy permits and registration certificates that took months to lock down but allow her to operate.

“Many Airbnb hosts may not want to go through all the regulations that we have to go through,” Fagan said.

Many short-term hosts do not adhere, especially when it comes to paying county and state hotel room taxes. The tax is usually just a few dollars per stay and it’s used to promote local tourism.

“It could be in the hundreds of thousands a year if we really were to capture all of it,” said Shireen Farr at the Cumberland Valley Visitor’s Bureau.

It’s a deficit the county is now addressing with educational social media blasts. Farr read one of the blasts.

“If you are advertising on a hosting site, you need to register and pay the county hotel tax,” she read.

Another says, “You are operating a business if you collect money from a third party for a short-term stay in your home.”

Colleges, car shows and other attractions draw more Airbnb guests to Cumberland County. Fagan says she just wants to be part of the growth.

“All we’re looking for is a level playing field,” she said.

ABC27 heard similar concerns at a town meeting in Elizabethtown. It’s a state and national problem. The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association is pushing for legislation by the end of this year.

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