Airbnb request to be included in Virginia Beach legislative requests; Henley objects to committee


COURTHOUSE – Virginia Beach property owners who rent out their homes through online platforms such as Airbnb must register with the revenue commissioner here and collect lodging taxes or face penalties under a code change approved this past month.

Revenue Commissioner Phil Kellam, who requested the change, stressed that it does not represent a tax upon homeowners. Rather, he said, it is an effort to more effectively ensure people are collecting taxes they already should be collecting and delivering them to the city.

Failing to address the issue might ultimately hurt the city’s lodging tax revenue, he said, meaning the transient occupancy taxes paid by established businesses such as hotels, motels and inns.

The city council has established an ad hoc committee of citizens to study the “home sharing economy” issue and quickly return recommendations so the city can express its recommendations to state lawmakers.

City Councilmember Barbara Henley voted against the committee during the regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16. During a meeting before the vote, she said the issue should not be “shuffled off” to somebody else but dealt with by the city council.

“I just really feel this issue is important,” Henley said during an interview. “I think [the council] should be hearing from the people.”

Earlier this summer, the issue had been given to the beaches and waterways commission reviewing the event homes issue, but that body stuck to the issue it initially had been tasked with.

The city is poised to request that the General Assembly adopt legislation allowing online rental platforms to operate under similar regulatory requirements to traditional lodging businesses.

© Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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