Since Airbnb became a popular platform for travelers to rent homes or rooms, cities and states have expanded taxes to cash in on the business of home-sharing.
How much of an impact have those taxes had in Pennsylvania? Airbnb says it has collected and remitted more than $21.1 million since the company began collecting taxes on Pennsylvania bookings.
The platform has 14,200 active hosts in Pennsylvania who rent their homes or spare rooms, Airbnb said, and in the last year 855,500 guests rented in the state through Airbnb.
Under a law that went into effect on Oct. 1, New Jersey soon will tax Airbnb, and the company estimates its bookings will generate more than $10 million per year in state and local taxes.
As for Pennsylvania, the total includes $12.1 million for the state, which has charged its 6 percent sales tax on Airbnb since July 2016.
Philadelphia has received $7.6 million from Airbnb since July 2015, when the city began taxing bookings. Airbnb renters in the city pay a 1 percent city sales tax in addition to the state tax, and an 8.5 percent hotel levy. Philadelphia legalized and began taxing Airbnb a few months before Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia; officials cited home rentals during the papal visit as an important reason to pass a law regarding short-term rentals.
It is difficult to determine how much new revenue Airbnb has raised in taxes; proponents of taxing home-sharing services say that they cut into the hotel business because visitors would otherwise stay in hotel rooms.
While expanding taxes to include Airbnb and other online bookings is often seen as a way to level the playing field between hotels and home-sharing platforms, the sales and hotel taxes reported by Airbnb appear to be a drop in the bucket compared with the city's and state's total revenues from the lodging industry.
Philadelphia has collected more than $125 million in hotel taxes in the last two fiscal years, according to the city's comprehensive annual financial reports. Airbnb's reported revenue accounts for less than 10 percent of that amount.
Figures weren't available for the 2017-18 fiscal year, but Pennsylvania collected nearly $208 million in hotel taxes in 2016-17, alone, according to the state's Department of Revenue.
Airbnb, nonetheless, boasts of its collections as a means of raising additional revenue for state and local governments. The company has generally supported state and local efforts to apply taxes to rentals.
"We're proud of the partnerships we've forged in Pennsylvania, and hope to continue working cooperatively to ensure home sharing can continue to benefit every corner of the Keystone State," Josh Meltzer, head of Northeast public policy for Airbnb, said in a news release announcing the tax figures.
In New Jersey, the law that took effect Oct. 1 affects all short-term rentals. While its supporters touted it as a tax on Airbnb and similar booking websites, Jersey Shore homeowners who rent through websites or word-of-mouth business have expressed concerns. Airbnb is not yet collecting taxes on bookings in New Jersey; a spokeswoman for Airbnb said the company is still working out details with the state's Department of the Treasury.
Pennsylvania lawmakers, meanwhile, recently passed another expansion of the state's levies on hotel bookings. The state House and Senate last week both voted in favor of a bill that would require online travel companies, such as Expedia and Travelocity, to collect state and local sales and hotel taxes. It is now awaiting Gov. Wolf's signature.
By requiring booking platforms to collect the tax, consumers would have to pay taxes on the full amount of the room, including fees charged by the website. That adjustment could raise an additional $10.8 million in the current fiscal year if the law goes into effect in December, and $23.8 million in the fiscal year beginning in July 2019, according to a fiscal note attached to the bill.