Winnipeg eyes taxing Airbnb and other home-sharing companies
Home-sharing companies like Airbnb have operated in Winnipeg for years without paying an accommodation tax like hotels do, but that could soon change.
The City of Winnipeg is reviewing options to update the accommodation tax bylaw to include online platform rental services, like Airbnb.
Airbnb host Brandy Elliott enjoys welcoming the world to her neighborhood and her home. She has two rooms available and says she brings in around $2,000 a month.
"I really like getting to know people and I wanted to see if I could do it, and its turned out really well, and crazy business since I started," said from her home in Norwood flats.
It's been a decade since Winnipeg updated the rules around accommodation taxes. Under the current bylaw hotels and motels collect a five per cent tax for the city.
On the city's website, it said the intent of the tax was to generate money to support Destination Winnipeg, the convention centre, and other organizations that encourage tourism.
The Manitoba Hotel Association said Wednesday the fact the city is looking at a tax is good news, but it doesn't get to the bottom of the issue.
President Scott Jocelyn said some Airbnbs are run by companies, instead of people using their own primary residence as a way to make extra money.
In a 2017 press release, the association said that same year only 17 per cent of Airbnb's total revenue in Canada was generated by true home-sharing where the owner is present.
"Put in primary residence, put some restrictions around that so if people want to do that a couple times a year, great, but not in the same space as big business ‘cause that's not fair," said Jocelyn.
The city's finance chair Scott Gillingham supports extending the accommodation tax and expects to see a report later this year.
"This is a matter of equity. It's a matter of fairness and if the city does expect the hotels or propels the hotels to collect taxes, than the same should hold true for the Airbnb providers,” Gillingham said.
Airbnb said on its website it already collects provincial sales tax in B.C., a 3.5 per cent lodging tax in Quebec, and 4 per cent accommodation tax in several Ontario communities.
"When it comes to accommodation taxes, our community wants to pay its fair share and ensure local governments can benefit from the economic impact of home sharing," said Alex Dagg with Airbnb in an emailed statement to CTV News.
Host Brandy Elliott believes even with a tax, the experience, comfort and location of her place will continue to be a draw.
"I don't think for a small fee that a guest is going to go somewhere else, they are looking for something different," Elliott said.