Airbnb agrees to collect sales tax from hosts in Costa Rica

January 17, 2017
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Representatives of Airbnb, the online marketplace that allows people to list or rent lodging in residential properties, said the company is willing to collect taxes from its hosts in Costa Rica and that it will collaborate with the drafting of a bill for that purpose.

Pablo H. Abarca Mora, president of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), said in a written statement that he met with Airbnb’s public policy lead for Central America and the Caribbean, Shawn Sullivan, on Jan. 13 to discuss the proposed regulations.

Sullivan indicated that Airbnb is very interested in working with CANATUR to outline a legal framework to regulate this type of sharing economy enterprise.

“Costa Rica is a world leader in tourism, and it would be the first Latin America country to approve legislation like this,” Sullivan said, adding that the San Francisco-based company is willing to adjust its platform to facilitate tax collection from Airbnb hosts of short-term rentals of less than thirty days.

CANATUR’s Abarca said that this agreement is a proof that sharing economy platforms should become tax collectors.

Abarca said that the chamber is already working on the drafting of a bill to collect sales tax from these types of businesses, plus an additional five percent that would fund improvements to the country’s national parks.

That percentage will only be charged to Airbnb hosts who do not obtain a tourism business recognition issued by the Costa Rican Tourism Board.

“These kind of incentives will help to better control these businesses, will improve tax collection and curb informality,” Abarca said.

Airbnb’s platform operates in 192 countries and has over 2 million properties registered. There are some 5,500 Airbnb hosts in Costa Rica; according to company data, a total of 147,000 people used the platform to find accommodation here in the past year.

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