State, Airbnb reach tax agreement

Published 5:19 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tennessee’s tourism economy is continuing to take shape, and one California-based company is doing its part to ensure success takes place as far as Northeast Tennessee.
Airbnb recently made headlines in West Tennessee with the Tennessee Department of Revenue reaching an agreement with the company to make certain the state receives the full revenue it should from hosts. Under the new agreement, Airbnb will collect and remit state and local taxes to its hosts across the state.
“Home sharing and short-term rentals are introducing a whole new world of travelers to the authenticity of Tennessee while offering new economic opportunities for thousands of middle class residents,” Laura Spanjian, Tennessee policy director for Airbnb, said in an emailed statement to the Elizabethton Star. “We applaud the Haslam administration for its business-friendly approach to public policy.”
Members of both the State Senate and House also commended the efforts of Airbnb and the TDR for coming to an agreement.
“As a state, we should continue to encourage these types of platforms that responsibly support host families,” said State Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon). “I love seeing Tennesseans taking full advantage of their private property rights and making valuable income.”
State Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) added, “It is phenomenal to see Tennessee taking a lead on cultivating the economic power of home sharing and Airbnb entering into this user fee collection agreement. I appreciate Tennessee homeowners opening their doors in the long-standing tradition of southern hospitality.”
Over the course of 2017, eight locations in the Tri-Cities, including Elizabethton and Roan Mountain, were able to combine for a total host income of $11,675,000. Elizabethton welcomed roughly 400 guest arrivals during the year, earning approximately $35,000 while Roan Mountain welcomed 980 and earned $73,000.
Ben Breit, with Airbnb, indicated the growth in the area has occurred due to events in the Tri-Cities causing local hotels to either reach peak occupancy or sell out. According to Breit, the biggest surge of Airbnb guests to the Tri-Cities took place during the 2017 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, along with other events at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“The expanded lodging capacity affords those of additional NASCAR fans to experience the region and contribute to local small businesses,” Briet told the Elizabethton Star Thursday. “That allows the region to take full economic advantage of the event.”
For Carter County and Elizabethton as a whole, Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman recently penned a column that shared the benefits of what the tourist-based business could bring to the region while a feasibility study for a hotel is underway.
“Airbnb has the power to give Elizabethton a tourism based economy without actually having a hotel … if short-term rentals increase more visitors will be tracked visiting our city and county, making it more attractive for a hotel to locate here,” he stated in the column.
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