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Air BnB property owners now required to pay hotel accommodation tax

A section of the main island of Tortola. (Photo by Davion Smith/BVI News)

Local property owners who temporarily lease their homes through online booking agents, Air BnB, are now required to pay hotel accommodation tax in the BVI.

Government made this a requirement during a Cabinet meeting on April 30.

According to the post Cabinet report, government entered into an agreement with Air BnB to facilitate tax collection.

Notably, this move comes approximately five months after the BVI Tourist Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States company for locals to lease their properties to visitors on a short-term basis.

The MoU came at a time when there was a decrease in the number of available accommodation for visitors following the onslaught of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

“We are pleased to be a formal part of the Airbnb network. We think Airbnb properties present a fabulous opportunity for home-share guests to be able to experience authentic British Virgin Islands culture and lifestyle,” said Tourism Director Sharon Flax-Brutus at the time.

Among the objectives of the agreement was to drive local, authentic, and sustainable tourism to the territory and ‘democratize the tourism economy’.

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29 Comments

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  1. any bets? says:

    They will still find a way to work around this

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    • wow says:

      They cant. The taxes must be paid directly to Airbnb and they in turn will pay government directly or Airbnb wont take the booking.This is being done in many other countries around the region and the world

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  2. Anonymous says:

    About time. To many were benfitting off of the fatted calf , and the BVI natural products.

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  3. A Query says:

    A move in the right direction.

    Do persons who live on the sea in boats moored around the islands pay ‘property’ taxes in the same way that the owners of houses and apartment buildings are required to pay house and land tax?

    Just wondering.

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    • Ok says:

      What ‘property’ are they on that would require them to pay ‘property’ taxes? Surely they would be paying a mooring fee or whatever fee to the marina or area that they’re occupying?

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    • true says:

      no tax is for the land and anything built on it, BVI must be the cheapest place on earth for this tax. Million dollar land $75 property tax

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      • Harrigan says:

        Not quite right. That low figure is for us locals only. Outsiders pay many times that. I pay 30 bucks for a piece I have and my neighbor pays 1200 for the same size lot.

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  4. Question says:

    Do you need a trade license to rent out your home via AIRBNB or is this resolved by AIRBNB paying the taxes?

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    • root down says:

      Yes, a trade license is required which in realty is just another tax. Tourists will soon realize the BVI is too expensive compared to other destinations / homeowners will realize its not worth it to rent. Less tourists will come to the BVI

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  5. resident says:

    this means that stuff like airbnb will be regularized in the bvi

  6. Islander says:

    I love the last line

    “The objective is to drive sustainable tourism”

    By adding a 10% tax?

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  7. Don’t trust them says:

    It pays to recall that AirBNB is just a platform. They have no skin in the game, and are in more than 1000 locations worldwide. Do not entrust them to collect and pay occupancy taxes. Read the fine print in their agreement which effectively they require hosts to indemnify them on any tax related matters, so requiring them to act as tax collectors is sheer folly IMHO. Instead, facilitate the trade license process, and require those who have them to collect and pay occupancy taxes, and have them submit an annual reckoning. We need accommodation, and this is a way to relieve the need and collect a bit of fair revenue but don’t rely on AirBnB. They pay taxes in bulk each month, with no detail by location (prob because it would rat out hosts whose rental contract usually prohibit subleasing, and who therefore should not be using rented property as hosts ) so there is no way for a host to prove he paid if there is ever any dispute. Word to the wise

  8. Um says:

    So what about the Airbnb properties that already pay their hotel tax to the government?

  9. John says:

    The US government too is trying to get a piece any income made via air bnb. I guess is just the nature of all governments to be parasitic.

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  10. smh says:

    Killing an industry before it even takes off. Air bnb suppose to be a cheaper option, but who do you think will pay for this. THE VISITORS. Taking away the main attraction for using Air-bnb is counter-productive.

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  11. BuzzBvi says:

    As usual it is a bit messed up. Air BnB is really irrelevant.

    To rent short term in the BVI you need a Trade Licence. If you have a Trade Licence for accommodation then it is your duty to pay the relevant taxes when renting that accommodation.
    IF you do not you break the law.

    There was no need for any MOU with anyone. There is not an MOU your VRBO/Home Away or with any other platform. There is no need.

    I think everyone will find that people renting with Air BnB are for the most part not Trade Licence properties and this is a way of collecting money from non Trade Licenced properties.

    It also opens up the possibility for everyone to rent their properties without a Trade Licence as long as the Government gets the Accommodation and Hotel Tax.

    It in fact offers Air BnB an advantage in the market as properties do not need a Trade Licence but are now require to pay tax.

    The other properties that have gone to the expense of setting up companies to properly trade may have a problem with this.

    They of course could just become Air BnB properties also instead of paying commissions etc.

    This has only played into Air BnB’s hands.

    The correct thing was to require people renting properties through Air BnB to be properly Trade Licenced and regulated so that they would pay the tax.

    This will offer Air BnB the whole BVI rental market as properties who used to have Trade Licences to Trade will find they are being undercut but by non Licenced properties that also do not pay commissions to agents making them significantly cheaper.

  12. E Scott says:

    Target air BnB because the majority who advertise on the platform are expats .just another example of gouging money from none Belongers. Shortsighted idea that is just another example of BVI determined to eat the goose that lays the golden egg.

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  13. Lmb says:

    Do you all realize that Airbnb is only one of mannnny platforms that allow people to rent their spaces? LOL. What a joke!
    Instead they require trade licenses and rental records from anyone they catch renting spaces on the many places on the net, they come with stupidness about airbnb paying taxes. Half baked ideas as usual. Flax lady idea right?

  14. Notaxes says:

    Leave it so. That is our right for what the Colonial masters stripped our ancestors of, working for free. Let us pay little taxes and not allowing Govt. to tax us out our homes. That is why we should not grant Belonger Status to all them white Britons. Their agenda will be different. Be ware, Virgin Islanders

    • Taxes are our responsibility says:

      Racism at its worst.
      Does that mean the white Britons don’t need to pay little tax in England since their ancestors were enslaved by the Vikings, Angles, Saxons and Romans?
      You make me ashamed to be born here.

  15. hello says:

    this is lousy reporting….did not even mention how much is the tax and how it will be collected?

  16. hmmm says:

    Not local alone lots of outside people who own houses here are renting them to other tourist for a short term period. they too should be paying taxes. because the governnent give them papers to buy a home here not to rent it out to overseas visitors. they are making a profit i hope the govt realize this.

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