By BOBBY HARRISON / Daily Journal
The Mississippi Department of Revenue will begin collecting Mississippi sales taxes and local tourism taxes on short-term lodging rentals made through such companies as Airbnb.
Kathy Waterbury a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, confirmed Monday via email that a new regulation, which will be final Sept. 28, will tax short-term lodging rentals, such as homes, apartments or even rooms in homes the same as the state taxes hotels and motels.
Waterbury said, the purpose of the new regulation “was to reflect changes in the hotel/motel industry and to make clear to interested parties that these type businesses meet the definition of a hotel as provided” in Mississippi law, which places the tax on the gross sales of hotels/motels.
In fiscal year 2016, Mississippi’s 7 percent sales tax on hotel/motel rentals generated $66.1 million. Various local governmental entities, with the consent of the Legislature, impose an additional tourism tax on hotel/motel rentals. The amount of that tax varies, but it generally hovers around 2 percent.
Airbnb is an online company that allows people to advertise their private property for short-term lodging.
According to various published reports, including some cited by Waterbury, Airbnb will begin collecting the sales tax and tourism tax on its rentals and remitting it to the state on Oct. 1.
The Department of Revenue held a public hearing on the rules change in April. Various conservative groups opposed taxing the Airbnb rentals, but groups associated with the hotel/motel industry said it was fair to tax the online rentals as they are taxed.
Apparently, a key on whether DOR could impose the tax under state law is whether the lodging is advertised as being available for short-term rental.
Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said Airbnb rentals and other such elements of “the new economy or gig economy” present interesting questions for legislators and other policymakers.
“I think in terms of regulation and taxation we need to think comprehensively about that type of stuff,” Bryan said, adding the Senate Finance Committee should be holding hearings on the new economy issues.