Herald-Whig

Proposed ordinance would require Airbnb property owners to collect city's hotel occupancy tax

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 15, 2019 7:20 am

QUINCY -- A proposed ordinance requiring short-term rental property guests to pay the city's 8% hotel/motel tax will come up for consideration by the Quincy City Council on Monday.

If approved by aldermen, the city will join a growing list of Illinois communities -- Bloomington, Normal and Champaign -- that have passed ordinances requiring short-term renters, most commonly booked through online platforms like Airbnb, bringfido.com, Homestay or Home Away, to pay that occupancy taxes.

Both Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore and Treasurer Linda Moore said the motivation behind the proposed ordinance, which they support, is "leveling the playing field" for the city's hotel and motel businesses.

"This is not a tax on the homeowner," Linda Moore said. "Just like this is not a tax on the hotel owner. It is a tax that the guest pays."

The city's treasurer said the ordinance likely would generate $10,000 annually for the city. She said that as the short-term rental industry continues to grow in Quincy, the proposed ordinance might generate more than $50,000 or $100,000 for the city.

Online sites show there were more than 40 rooms and homes for rent.

"A year ago, there was only one," Linda Moore said. "That number is only going to keep getting bigger, I believe."

Under the proposed ordinance, the obligation for collecting the occupancy tax is on the individual property owner, something which the city treasurer said will require some publicity and correspondence between the city and homeowners.

"In a perfect world, platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway or bringfido.com, all of these websites would collect the tax when someone registers for a room," Linda Moore said. "Unfortunately, they are not there yet. They do collect for some municipalities, but as of yet, they are not that far long enough to do it for us."

If the ordinance is approved by the aldermen, then Moore said she and her staff will reach out to homeowners they know operate short-term rental properties to help them get registered. Registration will be facilitated by the City Treasurer's office located in City Hall, 730 Maine, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Quincy city officials said they might turn to the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association to help crafting registration documents and with enforcement of the ordinance.

IHLA President and CEO Michael Jacobson said that is a role the association is ready to fulfill.

"IHLA can certainly help with discussions like that," Jacobson said. "We can help the city with finding clear regulations for Airbnb hosts and how they register so that the city is aware and that they are licensed to operate."

Mayor Moore said passing this ordinance likely will be a big step for the city as it prepares for "the economy of the future."

"It is only right, in my opinion, that we as a city prepare ourselves for a changing economy," Moore said. "An economy of the future where more people are using these sites rather than staying in traditional hotels."