Shortage of new Airbnb tax forms
Property owners who want to register holiday accommodation were left baffled after there were no official forms available.
In a bid to comply with the new Vacation Rental Act 2018, which introduced a 4.5 per cent tax on Airbnb-style rentals, landlords have asked for the appropriate paperwork from the tourism ministry.
However, despite the start of the legislation earlier this week, the forms were not expected to be ready until today.
Justin Mathias, a One Bermuda Alliance senator, said he was concerned that the law had been “rushed”.
He said: “I’ve been getting some phone calls, people have been trying to apply for their vacation rental certificates and the forms aren’t ready yet.
“I said, this is the unintended consequences of rushed legislation, that the administrative staff can’t keep up and the intent of the legislation doesn’t meet the reality.” Mr Mathias added: “People don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Government announced the start of the Vacation Rental Act 2018 on Monday and advised homeowners to view an online fact sheet.
It explains that vacation rental certificate application forms “are available at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism”, but to contact the Department of Consumer Affairs if the property falls under Rent Control.
Proprietors were told that among the benefits of registration was “promotional support” from the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
The webpage added: “All vacation rental units are required by law to be registered with the appropriate minister.
“Any vacation rental owner who fails to register their property or remit the 4.5 per cent vacation rental fee to the BTA is liable on conviction to pay a fine not exceeding $10,000 in accordance with Section 15A (8) of the Vacation Rentals Act 2018.”
The rate is expected to bring in $750,000 for the BTA.
One frustrated Airbnb host yesterday said he went to the ministry for an application form on Tuesday.
He added: “There are no forms to fill out, they said there are no forms for people to register their property.
The accommodation owner claimed that holiday lets had boosted the economy and community spirit all over the island.
He said: “These people come and stay in neighbourhoods, so we’re going back to good Bermuda, back to the old Bermuda experience, we see them walking in all different neighbourhoods.”
A government spokeswoman said the application forms would be available by the end of today and anyone who contacted the ministry would be informed.