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roomforrent120Do you rent rooms in your home?  You may now be liable to collect taxes for Tompkins County after the Legislature amended its Home Occupancy Law Tuesday.  That includes Airbnb participants, as well as anyone who rents a room, cabin, or other such facility for short term stays.

"It only seems fair to me," said Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler Wednesday at a Lansing Town Board meeting.  "You can't be undercutting our hotels and brick and mortar stores."

The new law changes the definition of the term 'hotel' in Tompkins County.  It refers to a rental space as a 'facility' instead of just a 'building', and removes the phrase 'regularly used and kept open as such' from the language of the law.  While the law continues to require room tax collection by traditional hotels, apartment hotels, motels, guest houses, inns and cottages, and bed-and-breakfasts, private homeowners who rent a room in their home or who rent their entire home to visitors are also subject to collect the tax.

"This is important because it applies to people who have cabins on their property," Sigler said.  "It's not a hotel, but you're going to have to pay the room tax."

Lodging properties must be registered with the County, and tax payments are then paid on a quarterly schedule, in much the same way businesses pay sales taxes.  Permanent residences in which lodgers stay more than 30 days are exempt from the law

Sigler said that you may be subject to collect tax even if you only rent a room once a year at graduation time, but noted that you can call the County to confirm whether you are subject to the responsibility.  He noted that the law isn't limited to traditional room rentals, but provides for a much broader definition than the old law that applied mainly to hotels.

"Glamping (glamorous camping) has become popular," Sigler noted.  "If you want to see a really cool glamping site, there is one up by La Tourelle.  They have really nice tents set up.  Up until now it didn't qualify as a hotel.  Now we'll collect taxes from that, and when people rent rooms in their home on weekends through Airbnb, we can collect on those, too.

Sigler said that no one spoke at the public hearing preceding the vote Tuesday, after which it was passed.

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