Since September 2017, Airbnb has been automatically collecting the 7 percent state sales tax and local tourism taxes on behalf of hosts and remitting the revenue directly to the state. At the time of the announcement, Airbnb anticipated collecting $245,000 during the past year.
Airbnb was able to quadruple expectations due to a 92 percent year-over-year growth for the platform in Mississippi. Over 69,000 guests utilized the service in the state during that time.
The fact that Airbnb collected and paid $1 million in taxes last year should be considered a good thing. The fact that consumers now have more choices if they want an option besides a traditional hotel is a good thing. And the fact that new competition has been inserted into the lodging industry is a good thing.
Of course, the industry that once enjoyed this monopoly doesn’t see things that way.
Linda Hornsby, executive director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, calls it a “definite concern as it (homesharing) continues to grow.” She added, “We are monitoring the negative economic impact of that not just here in Mississippi...As it continues to grow, it exacerbates the problem.”
The so-called negative impact may be to one specific industry, but it is not to the guests who are gladly choosing this option. And it is certainly not a negative to the hosts who are earning a new income stream.
It is understandable that a group or organization that spent decades pursuing regulations to limit competition would be upset when new innovations threaten their monopoly. But the answer isn’t to impose outdated regulations on the new economy, but to deregulate existing industries.
And for government to rely on the free market and trust their citizens to be able to make the best decisions for themselves.