Short-term rental company Airbnb will begin collecting and remitting tourist development taxes — more commonly known as “bed taxes” — on behalf of its Okaloosa County hosts.
The move is expected to result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue for the county, company officials said Tuesday.
Airbnb is an online service that enables people to list or rent short-term accommodations in residential properties. Okaloosa County, and Destin in particular, are popular travel destinations for Airbnb guests. In 2016, Destin’s 200 active Airbnb hosts welcomed 12,000 guest arrivals and earned a combined $2.2 million in supplemental income. Okaloosa hosts outside of Destin earned about $700,000 in supplemental income. The total 2016 home-sharing income of $2.9 million for Okaloosa County hosts ranked 18th among Florida counties.
“Airbnb and our host community are thrilled to help elevate Okaloosa County’s growing tourism economy,” said Tom Martinelli, Airbnb Florida Policy Director. “This new tourist tax revenue will infuse new funding for the County to market the family friendly brand of Destin and its surrounding communities to the rest of the world.”
Airbnb’s Destin bookings in 2016 reflected 240 percent year-over-year growth, officials said. However, even if 2017 bookings remained flat over 2016 numbers, Airbnb projects that it would collect and remit about $145,000 in new annual tax revenue to Okaloosa County.
The announcement Tuesday comes as a result of the Okaloosa County Commission’s vote in October 2016 to empower the Florida State Department of Revenue to collect bed tax on the County’s behalf. In December, Airbnb reached an agreement with the Department of Revenue to collect and remit the bed tax on behalf of all Airbnb hosts who reside in counties where the State administers local taxes. Airbnb will collect and remit the 5 percent bed tax on behalf of its Okaloosa hosts beginning on March 1.
Okaloosa County is now the 34th Florida county in which Airbnb is collecting and remitting bed taxes on behalf of its hosts. The company is also collecting bed taxes in neighboring Santa Rosa County, but isn’t yet in Escambia or Walton counties. Escambia County hosts earned a total of $1.8 million in 2016, company officials said, a figure that would have translated to more than $70,000 in bed tax revenue if collected.
Airbnb’s dedicated Florida policy team, based out of Miami, is working to negotiate agreements by the end of the year with all 63 Florida counties which collect local bed tax.