A recent editorial (“The Flaws In The Airbnb Bill Call For A Gubernatorial Veto”, Civil Beat, May 11, 2016) is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of House Bill 1850. HB 1850 is a tax bill that solves a longstanding problem for the State Department of Taxation: tax compliance from the short-term rental industry.

We all know that tourism, our largest industry, is evolving: growing consumer demand, paired with technological advances make it easier than ever for homeowners to rent to visitors. It has also opened up a new type of shor-term rental: homesharing. This enables local families — not only international corporations — to benefit from the tourism industry, earn extra income and share the culture of the islands.

This Airbnb listing in Lahaina is one of hundreds for short-term rentals in Hawaii on the rapidly growing website.

This Airbnb listing is one of hundreds for short-term rentals in Hawaii on the rapidly growing website.

Airbnb

Increased visitor spending that stays in local pockets and in local neighborhoods supports jobs and neighborhood businesses throughout Hawaii and has allowed many families to help make ends meet: 19 percent of hosts say the income they earned on Airbnb helped them avoid foreclosure.

Some oppose HB 1850 because they want to require platforms to verify zoning compliance of all advertisers on their sites. A state tax bill is not the appropriate vehicle for county land use discussions. Such a requirement would selectively shift county land use enforcement to only those volunteering to pay taxes through HB1850, creating a loophole for those who choose not to register.

More importantly, denying an Internet platform the ability to remit taxes would not result in removal of unpermitted rentals. These are two separate issues that require two separate solutions.

Gov. David Ige should sign HB 1850 to provide the state with millions in additional tax revenue and to ensure everyone is paying their fair share. Following that, it is incumbent upon the county and short-term rental stakeholders to continue the important conversation about local permitting and zoning rules.

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