BC collected $43m in Airbnb taxes but affordability impact is bigger

by Steve Randall15 Nov 2019

The harm that is done to the housing market in British Columbia is far greater than the tax revenue brought in by the province.

That’s the view of a property expert, reacting to the $43 million in taxes paid to the province’s governments by the largest short-term rental facilitator Airbnb.

“The extra amount of tax the hosts are paying and the Airbnb is collecting and passing along, there’s no scenario where that tax makes up for the harmful impact of all the short-term rentals on housing availability and affordability in the province,” Prof. David Wachsmuth at McGill University’s school of urban planning told HuffPost Canada.

He added that even if all the tax paid by Airbnb and its hosts was used to address housing affordability, it wouldn’t make up for the damage to affordability and supply in of rental homes in the market caused by residents choosing to use short-term rentals rather than the longer-term rental market.

The BC government collected more through its tax agreement with Airbnb than it expected – more than double in fact. The province says the fact that more long-term business licences have increased since the introduction of short-term licences shows that its efforts to regulate the short-term market is working.

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