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Airbnb Getting Less Extenuating, Converge Refresh, Tenn. Tax Changes, Aspen Back Taxes, Sonoma Purging Licenses

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TGIF Everyone!😊

Effective starting January 20, 2021, Airbnb is updating their extenuating circumstances policy for what sounds like a positive change for hosts. The new policy will only cover the following events:

  • Changes to government travel requirements. This does not include a guest's personal circumstances related to authorized travel.
  • Declared emergencies and epidemics. Diseases that are endemic or common to a specific area are not included.
  • Government travel restrictions. Government guidance and travel advisories are not included.
  • Military actions and other hostilities. If a war breaks out and you’re planning on traveling, Airbnb has your back. Everything specifically covered includes, “Acts of war, hostilities, invasions, civil war, terrorism, explosions, bombings, rebellions, riots, insurrection, civil disorder, and civil unrest.”
  • Natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and other abnormal weather events will be covered. Common weather conditions that are foreseeable in a specific location will not be covered. For example Florida has hurricanes during hurricane season, go figure.

If you cancel a booking during one of these events, the cancellation policy that applies to the reservation will determine the amount the guest receives back.

And hey, if all this talk of cancellation policies gets you thinking you should update your own policy, feel free to head over to our Cancellation Policies Overview page

For those of you who use Converge as your payment processor, you may have noticed some changes. Users will now see an updated interface the next time they login. Some of the other notable updates include Credit Card Surcharge, Product Catalog, Billing & Invoicing and EMV Sales. Processor APIs typically remain backward compatible, so you shouldn’t notice any differences on the OwnerRez side, but if you do, let us know.

Tennessee has made changes for tax collection. Anyone who books a stay in Tennessee will have to pay the 7% State Sales Tax along with the 1.50%-2.75% Local Sales Tax. Plus depending on the county your stay is in, you will have to pay different tax rates. Knoxville has the least amount of county tax with a 3% Hotel Occupancy Tax. Next comes Memphis has a Short Term Room Occupancy Tax at 3.5%, plus a $2 per bedroom per night Tourism Improvement District Assessment Tax. Hamilton County has a whopping 8% of additional tax if you stay for less than 29 nights. So if you’re planning a vacation to Tennessee, Knoxville might be your best bet.

As usual, it’s all about tax money, not safety or real estate values like county officials like to claim.  If they can get everyone operating a short-term rental to pay taxes, and increase those taxes on a regular basis, governments are happy as clams.

Aspen City stopped a new regulation on owner licensing as long as multi-unit facilities were licensed by the facility manager, so that they could get their short-term taxes out and get everyone paying.  Mayor Torre says “The city has been behind on this and we are trying to get back into the game and get caught up”. That’s behind on taxes, to be clear, not safety.

Sonoma is purging 400 inactive STR licenses to make way for new ones.  Why?  Well a few weeks ago, as we commented here, Sonoma set an artificial limit on STRs.  They’ve now realized that a bunch of the grandfathered-in existing STR operators are inactive and weren’t paying taxes - can’t have that.   Supervisor Shirlee says “It’s really important that tourism comes back”.  Well…  important that taxes come back, right Shirlee?

And then of course the fees.  Why charge a hundred bucks for an STR license if you can charge twice that?  Or increase it 3-4 times if you’re Clear Lake City.

We joke of course, but it’s funny to watch the naked tax grabs and the we’ve-gotta-protect-the-people explanations that are used to justify them.

2 Comments (add yours)

Oct 5, 2020 11:32 AM
Joined Jun, 2016 1115 posts

I am still thinking that something is not working re latest TN tax change. I removed TN and County sales and only left 3% lodging in place. The total tax amt seems to be overstated still on quotes. Have ticket opened already.

Paul W
Oct 6, 2020 9:03 AM
OR Team Member Joined Jun, 2009 826 posts

Keep us posted. I'm curious how this goes as some neighboring states (eg. VA) are rumored to be preparing the same.