A Montreal man who has boasted about earning more than $200,000 from Airbnb says Revenu Québec is now charging him more than $60,000 in sales and hotel taxes.
Dany Papineau says renting out his place on the popular home-sharing services site helped turn his life around. He went from being $500,000 in debt for a failed movie-making attempt to netting more than $200,000 in three years.
He shares his story in an online video aimed at teaching others how to be successful with Airbnb. He even offers classes on the subject.
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Papineau says he has all the permits needed to rent his four properties, some of them co-owned by relatives and his partner. He also says he pays tax on his personal income from Airbnb. But he admits he hasn't paid sales or hotel taxes.
He doesn't think he should have to.
"If I had made this money renting my place on Craigslist or Kijiji, I would be 100 per cent responsible for paying these taxes," he says. "It's Airbnb that collects all payment. It's Airbnb that sends the bill from Airbnb to the client."
Airbnb 'eager to work with policy makers'
On its website, Airbnb says occupancy taxes are included in the bill for certain cities, but leaves it up to users to check with their jurisdictions and add additional charges if they must.
"Hotel taxes are the host responsibility – we are working to play an intermediary role to make things easier," Airbnb said in a written statement to CBC.
Airbnb added that the company is working with cities around the world to help its users pay their hotel taxes. For instance, in San Francisco, Airbnb has been collecting and remitting the 14 per cent hotel tax since October 2014.
"Current tax law is complicated and was written for large-scale hotels, not regular people sharing their space for a couple days each month. We are eager to work with policy makers in Quebec to make it possible for our community [to] pay their fair share of tourism taxes,"Airbnb said.
Revenu Québec says its mandate is to enforce provincial tax law which assigns the accommodation provider responsibility to collect sales tax.
Papineau calls himself a pioneer and says though he's going to be paying his tax bill for now, but will be fighting it. He says the Quebec government is being short-sighted by going after individual Airbnb users.
"What's easier? To collect $10,000 from users one at a time? Or to just collect from one platform that will pay taxes for all the users?"
Revenu Québec says it has collected $7.2 million in taxes from Airbnb providers in 2014-2015.