Miami-Dade County commissioners approve bed tax for Airbnb

Hoteliers consider vote step in right direction to leveling playing field

MIAMI – Miami-Dade County commissioners Tuesday levied the county's 6 percent hotel tax on room-sharing platforms, whether legally sanctioned or not.

Commissioners debated the ongoing struggle to regulate Airbnb before voting in favor of the tax deal. Three commissioners -- Bruno Barreiro, Joe Martinez and Javier Souto -- voted against the measure.

The vote did nothing to regulate or condone what is fast becoming a market-driven, app-based evolution of guest housing, currently the target of a "Just Say No" crusade by the mayors of Miami and Miami Beach, who are opposed to resort business in residential neighborhoods.

Airbnb spokesman Tom Martinelli said the company is "solely focused on making sure that our hosts are recognized and legitimized and compliant with the letter of the law."

"But they're not recognized or legitimized with this vote," Local 10 News reporter Glenna Milberg said.

"Well, I think that today we got a little closer," Martinelli said.

The county bed tax on the thousands of room-share rentals mean an estimated $6 million annually in Miami-Dade County and $1 million in neighboring Broward County.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he's confident the county will be able to collect that bed tax from Airbnb.

"Our CFO (chief financial officer) was the one (who) negotiated, and he feels there are enough safeguards there," Gimenez said.

Hotel industry representatives support the tax that levels their playing field a bit, although they want private rentals to face the same rules and code regulations.

"We are going to work with government officials on how to regulate this," Bill Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Local 10.

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