Jalisco legislators have approved a measure compelling property owners who list their domiciles on Airbnb – and similar online platforms – to pay the state’s three percent hospitality tax, which is obligatory for all hotels and B&Bs operating in the state.
The measure, which Congress passed unanimously, is part of the 2018 Ley de Ingresos (the state budget) and was drafted by Juan Carlos Anguiano Orozco, president of the legislature’s Tourism Commission. He said monies collected by the new tax will go straight back into the tourism promotion fund and help level the hospitality playing field some say has been thrown out of whack by the online platforms’ lower prices.
The regulatory move has the support of many of the state’s traditional hotel associations, such as Haciendas y Casonas de Jalisco, headed by Bertha Venegas. She lamented the fact that Airbnb undercuts the competition by offering prices 30 percent lower than the industry average, which she claims especially affects those in traditional hospitality, who spend much more, she says, on “maintenance, repairs and installations.”
Héctor Pérez Partida, the state Finance and Planning secretary, said the mechanism by which the tax would be collected will need to be carefully worked out in coordination with airbnb and other platform executives. He said this might require changes to their website designs and functions.
As a state with many tourist attractions, including Puerto Vallarta and the Tequila region – not to mention Lake Chapala, where many foreign retirees go to test the waters before buying property – Jalisco is seeing far too much revenue flow into the pockets of its citizens for the government to ignore.
The tax has been met, not unexpectedly, with fierce opposition from those who let their properties through internet platforms.
“Those raising a fuss [about Airbnb’s “unfair” pricing] are doing so because they fear competition,” Julia Valencia, who rents a property in the Chapultepec area of Guadalajara, told a metro-area Spanish-language daily. “And the hotel sector’s complaints are contradictory. They advertise in Airbnb as well. It’s not right to have to pay extra taxes, seeing as we already pay property tax and should be able to do what we please with our properties.”
For their part, Airbnb intends to cooperate fully with the governmental decree. The tenor of the company’s statement regarding the tax was one of fraternal but slightly aloof diplomacy, an ameliorating approach often conspicuously missing from taxi platform Uber’s interactions with its host governments.
“Guadalajara is one of the most important cities in this country, precisely because of its tech sector and its tradition of openness to new technological solutions,” read the Airbnb Mexico’s communique. “One can’t halt technology and innovation. Airbnb and other services like it are the future. But we have a responsibility to play by the rules and to insure a level playing field.”