Minnis: Appropriate Tax Soon For Vacation Home Rentals To Level The Playing Field



Government has reaffirmed its commitment to properly regulate vacation home rentals – which includes homes listed on popular website Airbnb – with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis stating that these types of operations have been operating outside of The Bahamas’ regulatory environment for years.

Minnis, who was speaking at the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s Board of Directors and Membership meeting yesterday, said those vacation home rentals will soon receive an “appropriate tax” in order to “level the playing field”.

“Such products will have to be registered with the Ministry of Tourism and an appropriate taxation will be applied to level the playing field and ensure their contribution to the public purse,” the prime minister said. “Through registration, we can ensure that they meet our standard for safety and quality.”

Minnis called vacation home rentals a “new hospitality product”, likely meaning one that has been untapped and unregulated by government for many years. Vacation home rentals have been around for decades, but have been popularized and made more available to both tourists and people wanting to rent homes and rooms via services such as Airbnb.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, recently signed a landmark agreement with Airbnb to develop a set of policy principles and recommendations on the online short-term rentals sector for Caribbean governments and other stakeholders.

Guardian Business found at least 300 listings on Airbnb for The Bahamas. The CTO said there could be as many as 60,000 of these types of properties listed across the Caribbean on Airbnb and other similar platforms.

Some small hotel owners have complained that these rentals are eating into their businesses, their success fueled by the unregulated nature of the sector that keeps its prices below those of hotels. The owners of these properties are not required to pay the same taxes per room night as hoteliers.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said the Bahamas government might move to strike a deal to authorize online hospitality service Airbnb to collect value-added tax (VAT) on its behalf for vacation rental homes. Minnis suggested yesterday that those in the market should prepare to be taxed.

It was recently reported that the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Airbnb signed a tax agreement that will allow the online booking platform to collect its 12.5 percent hotel room occupancy tax attached to the rooms and homes of those Airbnb users.

Chester Robards,
The Nassau Guardian
Published: June 16, 2017