S.F. Examiner file photo

S.F. Examiner file photo

HomeAway.com on notice to share info with SF tax collector

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera this week moved to force short-term rental site HomeAway.com to hand over information about hosts and transactions in San Francisco to city tax collectors.

A petition filed by the City Attorney’s Office in San Francisco Superior Court seeks a court order compelling HomeAway.com to provide the information to City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, so that he can make sure hosts are properly registered and paying hotel taxes as required by city law.

Cisneros has previously filed two subpoenas against the company, in October and April, but HomeAway.com has so far refused to comply, according to the petition. The tax collector has the legal authority to issue subpoenas to anyone with information relevant to enforcing compliance with business and tax regulations, the petition notes.

“This action is an important step in our efforts to collect transient occupancy taxes from short-term rentals operating in San Francisco,” Cisneros said in a statement. “Businesses in San Francisco can’t ignore our laws.

Cisneros said the action should “put on strong notice” any short-term rental hosts who have not yet registered as a business and collected and paid taxes as required.

Short-term rentals have been a contentious topic in the city, due to concerns that they can take thousands of housing units off the market for use as unlicensed hotel rooms. While the city has passed regulations requiring hosts to register and pay hotel taxes, recent city reports indicate as few as 25 percent of all short-term rental hosts have done so.

“This action is fundamentally about fairness: businesses that follow the law shouldn’t have to compete against law-breakers,” Herrera said in a statement. “That principle applies equally to short-term rental hosts who don’t collect taxes, and to the online platforms determined to shield them.”

Airbnb, the best known of the short-term rental sites, has been designated by The City as a Qualified Website Company — meaning it collects and remits hotel taxes from hosts when it processes payments through its web site.

Recently passed regulations would require sites to confirm a host is legally registered with the city before posting a listing, a requirement that Airbnb has opposed in the past. It remains uncertain whether Airbnb or other sites will file a legal challenge to those regulations before they take effect in July.AirBnBCity AttorneyDennis HerreraHomeAwayhousingPoliticsSan Franciscoshort-term rentals

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A ban on smoking or vaping in multi-unit buildings has drawn opposition from cannabis advocates, who say it would leave users with no legal place to consume a legal substance. (Shutterstock)
Cannabis group slams Yee’s proposed apartment smoking ban as ‘classist’

Legislation would impose fines of $1,000 a day on repeat violators

The most dangerous behaviors by drivers include failing to yield right-of-way at crosswalks, unsafe speeding and failing to stop at red lights or stop signs. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite, which supplies water to San Francisco, is among the concerns of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is undergoing a change of leadership. <ins>(Courtesy SFPUC)</ins>
Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

Will agency’s new commissioner continue to support Big Ag?

Supervisor Shamann Walton joined with community members to speak out against rising homicides, which have taken a heavy toll in the Bayview-Hunters Point in 2020. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F Examiner)
SF homicides surpass 2019 total with month left in year

Police attribute rise to COVID-19, shootings and deadly gang violence

A screenshot from SFPD body worn camera
New videos show police shooting man armed with knife, frying pan

Police say Antonio Estrada set fire to apartment building before shooting

Most Read