Two stories from the Post this morning amount to a sort of good-news-bad-news situation for embattled apartment sharing website AirBnb. 1) The site plans to start collecting taxes from its New York users this summer, and 2) some of those users are prostitutes.
AirBnB has said before that it wants to make its users pay taxes, but the state seems to be regarding it as an empty promise. Now the short-term rental site says that it can start collecting taxes as soon as July 1, if New York state laws are changed in time. Currently, the state requires individual hosts collect and pay the hotel taxes. The site has said that if allowed it would be able to pay $21 million a year in city and state taxes.
As for the thing about the prostitutes, it makes a good deal of sense — prostitutes use hotels, people like to use AirBnB because it's cheaper than hotels, and prostitutes are people. Using individual residences also allows for more discretion than a hotel room, one anonymous sex worker told the Post. (If anyone is curious, she charges up to $500 an hour and operates out of the Financial District and Midtown West.) So, while that story isn't particularly surprising, it is probably a little unsettling for hosts that this kind of thing can happen without their knowledge. (The site, for the record, has "zero tolerance" for prostitution.) It also can't be something that AirBnB is happy to be hearing about while it's fighting a constant public relations battle with law enforcement.
· Hookers turning Airbnb apartments into temporary brothels [NYP]
· Airbnb aims to start taxing renters by July 1 [NYP]
· AirBnB coverage [Curbed]