Thanks to the amazing Berkshire REALTORS who devoted a full day to attend REALTOR Day on Beacon Hill, where we gathered for a group meeting about real estate and housing issues and then went to each of our legislators to present these issues. In attendance were: Government Affairs Chair Franz Forster, President Churchward Davis, CEO Sandy Carroll, Staff Sue O’Brien and members Barbara Osborne, Nancy Smith, Maureen McFarland, Steve Ray, Barbara Davis Hassan, and Anne Meczywor. A list of our issues can be found in PDF format.
We will do a series to cover each in depth, but this edition, we’d like to make sure you are familiar with the Room Occupancy Tax debate. We need your help! Below is a summary of the emerging issues about the proposals on the table for our legislators consideration… We are hoping you could take a brief survey to share how many buyers you represent are seeking a home for rental income. Here is some information on this legislation…
Occupancy tax proposals promote the creation of a new tax on homeowners who choose to rent their homes for a short term. In addition to established businesses like hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast establishments, these proposals would allow a city or town to charge a tax on any apartment, single or multiple family housing, cottage, condominium or timeshare unit. Private homeowners would then be responsible for the collection, handling, and remittance of these taxes to the Department of Revenue. The collection, handling, and remittance of these taxes is something that private individuals are not familiar with, as they have never been required to handle them and inadvertent errors in handling could result in sanctions. If passed, the homeowner would be required to comply with onerous business regulations that were never intended for the average homeowner.
Here is a link to an article about the hearing held in Lenox, including testimony from “in their own words” in the sidebar of comments from SPC Anne Meczywor and President Church Davis. http://www.reformer.com/stories/how-to-regulate-rooms-for-rent-in-massachusetts,509848. Following that, another article was written about this issue that may be of interest: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/clarence-fanto-short-term-rentals-a-complex-issue,510128
The confusion is because there are multiple proposals in play right now. The most immediate concern is the proposal that is contained in the Senate budget. That proposal would tax any rental of 90 days or less. We are targeting the budget conference committee members who will be negotiating the final budget.
The other proposal that has generated interest is the House bill filed by Chairman Michlewitz. This is the bill that was heard in Lenox last week and on the Cape yesterday afternoon. This bill would tax rentals of less than 30 days that use a hosting platform. A hosting platform could be anything as simple as a website, it doesn’t have to be Airbnb or vrbo.
We should know the status of the senate proposal within the next two weeks because the budget needs to get to the governor before the end of the fiscal year. Assuming that proposal gets defeated, we can then turn our attention to the specifics of the House bill.
Finally, MAR has launched an ad campaign (social media and online) that targets legislators and consumers to oppose the proposed short term room occupancy tax that is currently being debated by the Senate-House Budget Conference Committee. Our message… Don’t treat Homeowners Like Hotels.