Wirth Airbnb tax plan shot down

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Assemblyman Hal Wirths and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso fought to protect consumers and the tourism industry from the so-called “Airbnb tax.”

Last July, Gov. Murphy and the Democrat-controlled legislature passed a law that applied an 11.6 surcharge on short-term rentals not booked through a real estate agency.

The Assembly voted on legislation yesterday to limit the scope of the Airbnb tax to rentals obtained through a marketplace, but Wirths and DiMaso say it doesn’t go far enough. The tourism industry is starting to feel the consequences of the tax as short-term rentals at the Jersey Shore struggle and vacationers choose less expensive destinations.

“New Jersey is one of the most expensive places, if not the most expensive place, to rent a house through a marketplace,” said Wirths (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “By leaving the marketplace at full tax, it’s going to have a negative impact on the entire state of New Jersey from Cape May to Sussex County. This is a supplement income for people to offset their extremely high property taxes.”

Wirths’ plea to eliminate the tax entirely on the floor of the Assembly was voted down 44-28.

“In Monmouth County alone, tourism is a $2.5 billion dollar business employing more than 30,000 residents. In 2018, we had 8.6 million visitors,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Services such as Airbnb have the potential to draw more visitors to the Jersey Shore and the additional tax can only hurt our residents who took a risk and made an investment on rental property.”

DiMaso urged legislators to exempt the Jersey Shore communities, including Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May counties, from the tax. Her amendments were rejected 46-26.

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