Miami-Dade County

Miami’s mayor wants an opt-out from county Airbnb tax deal

Tomas Regalado
Tomas Regalado

The city of Miami should be allowed to opt out of a pending deal that if approved Tuesday would allow Miami-Dade County to collect tourist taxes on home-sharing rentals, Mayor Tomás Regalado says.

In a letter sent Monday to county commissioners and Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Regalado requested that they include a provision in the agreement that would allow municipalities to exclude themselves. As currently composed, the memorandum of understanding between the tax collector and Airbnb, Inc. ensures that future rentals booked on the home-sharing platform would pay tourist development room taxes, a professional sports franchise facility tax, and a convention development tax — the same taxes that hotels pay.

Miami-Dade County is one of the top five Airbnb destinations in the country, with 6,800 hosts renting their homes. But for the past year, Miami Beach has been fining locals who rent on platforms like Airbnb $20,000 for each violation.

The county estimates collections during the first year of the agreement would be around $6 million.

But thousands of the properties available for rent on Airbnb are located in residential areas of Miami and Miami Beach where those cities have deemed short-term rentals largely illegal. Miami commissioners voted last month to reaffirm the city’s position, which Regalado noted in his letter.

“It is my wish that prior to approval of this MOU, an opt out provision is included to allow local municipalities, or specifically the city of Miami, to be excluded from participation,” Regalado wrote.

Later Monday, Gimenez responded in his own letter to Regalado, saying the intent of the agreement is to “level the playing field” between short-term rentals and the hotel industry. He said Regalado’s request seems antithetical to his goals.

“Given your position that short-term/vacation rentals should be prohibited in many residential areas of the city, I have to ask why you would want to give Airbnb a competitive advantage over the hotel industry by not collecting taxes from Airbnb.”

This article has been updated to include Gimenez’s remarks to Regalado.

Related stories from Miami Herald