From the NYT:
The Jersey Shore, a storied summer vacation spot, has become the newest national battleground over regulating and taxing the internet economy.
New Jersey is one of the first big states to adopt a surcharge on short-term rentals — a so-called Airbnb tax. It kicked in Oct. 1 and is causing vacationers to rethink their summer travels and stirring anxiety among the homeowners who rely on them.
The fallout over the 11.6 percent tax has inserted New Jersey into a broader debate as states and communities grapple with the explosive growth of the online home-sharing economy. A patchwork framework of local ordinances has failed to keep pace with the rapid rise of Airbnb, the largest home-sharing site, which was valued at $31 billion two years ago and has upended the rental market around the world.
Much like Uber’s dominance has caused a regulatory challenge for cities and Amazon’s ascent has prompted states to adopt internet sales taxes, the popularity of Airbnb has begun to push lawmakers to impose new rules even as they find ways to tap the enormous revenue it generates.
George Triebenbacher, 56, grew up on Long Beach Island in New Jersey and now owns seven properties there that he’s been renting out since 2010. His weekly rates vary — three homes rent for $1,650, three go for $5,500 and a larger home fetches $10,000.
In past years, by this point in March, all his homes had typically been reserved for the summer. But this year, about one-fourth of his rental weeks are still available, he said, and some people who had initially reserved are backing out.
“People are actually canceling and forgoing deposits to get away from the taxes,” he said. “There’s no question that there’s all kind of upheaval being created by this tax.’’
Passage of the short-term rental tax flew largely under the radar last summer, overshadowed by the battle between Mr. Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders over a different tax — on the wealthy — that nearly shut down the state’s government.
But now many along the shore say the rental tax places one of the state’s main summer economic engines in its crosshairs. The 11.6 percent tax applies to all rentals fewer than 14 days, including those made on home-sharing sites or directly between a renter and an owner. The only exceptions are rentals arranged through a realtor, which are not subject to the tax.
John Brennan owns a home on Long Beach Island that he is listing on Airbnb for $2,200 a week. By late winter he said he typically has 70 percent of the season booked. But so far, nothing has been rented. “They can’t just keep taxing us,” he said.
Maria Vitale, who has rented out her home in Lavallette for nearly 10 years, is charging the same weekly price, $2,400, as last year, but said many would-be renters had been turned off by the additional $280 in taxes.
“New Jersey people, we’ve been taxed enough,” she said.
The tax is taking hold at a time when the coast is still not fully recovered from Hurricane Sandy, Ms. Vitale noted. Still, there are signs of optimism: Her kitchen is being used less, she said, as renters seek out restaurants that have begun to reopen after the devastating 2012 storm.
“Knowing what the Jersey Shore went through six-plus years ago,” she said, “I don’t think this is the opportune time to tax them even more.”