Winnipeg poised to apply hotel tax to Airbnb rentals as industry pushes for ‘level playing field’

by Ray Kar, May 2, 2019

The CBC reports that Winnipeg is poised to levy a 5% tax on AirBnB operators.  The tax is equivalent to what conventional hotel operators are charged per a occupied room.

The city “is currently reviewing options to update” the bylaw “in order to specifically include online platform rental services” such as Airbnb, city spokesperson Kalen Qually said in a statement late last week.

The proposed change comes as the hotel industry across Canada applies increasing pressure on governments at all levels, municipal, provincial, federal, to create a more level playing field for services offering short term furnished accommodations.

“It’s very, very difficult for us to compete if they don’t have to collect the taxes hotels do,” said Scott Jocelyn, president of the Manitoba Hotel Association, which represents about 80 hotels with a combined 7,100 rooms.

The image of global hotel brands, being threatened by the “little guy” AirBnB operator strikes many as odd, in that you don’t expect Goliath’s to be complaining about a fight with David so to speak.  However, analysis by CBC shows some of AirBnB biggest players in Canada are actually — and sometimes secretly — multimillion-dollar for-profit corporations.

Six Ontario cities, including Ottawa and Mississauga, require Airbnb to collect a four per cent municipal accommodation tax. Municipalities in British Columbia require Airbnb to collect a tax equal to two to three per cent of the listing price. Quebec makes Airbnb rentals subject to a 3.5 per cent provincial lodging tax.

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