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Airbnb tries to prove it's legit by helping hosts pay taxes

Caitlin McGarry | April 2, 2014
A new Shared City initiative in Portland and San Francisco proves Airbnb wants play by the rules.

Letter to New York
Airbnb is desperately hoping that its new tax collection efforts in Portland and San Francisco will appeal to officials in New York, who so far haven't been buying what Airbnb is selling. Airbnb has trotted out sympathetic hosts, commissioned economic impact studies, and most recently penned a plaintive letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asking for his support, but so far, the city has taken a cautious stance on the start-up.

In its letter to the city, Airbnb estimated that New York could take in more than $21 million in taxes from hosts if lawmakers would only change the laws on short-term rentals that make Airbnb rentals effectively illegal. (Not that the rules have really stopped anyone.)

According to the Wall Street Journal, Airbnb also told De Blasio that the taxes its hosts paid could be used for housing assistance for the homeless.

It's unclear if appealing to De Blasio's soft spot will smooth over the rocky standing Airbnb currently holds in New York, but if the Shared City initiative proves successful, New York might not have a reason keep up its fight against the start-up.


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