The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01991

Submission Number:
Kris Obertone
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I have spent the last 1.5 year planning and building what I hope to be a new and luxurious B&B in Virginia. With the rise of Airbnb, I am really wondering why I would go through all the trouble of the permits (state and local), liscensing (state and local) and paying for a tax accountant and LLC when, 1) local people in my area are renting their rooms and apartments and "pool houses" on Airbnb with NO regulation and could potentially destroy a business i am trying to build, legitimately. And, apparently, I could just post photos of my rooms on Airbnb and rent them out without all the hassle, cost, and regulation of being a real LLC that pays taxes and is held accountable. This pains me that I have put so miuch effort in but neighbors with a pool house can just post on Airbnb and make as much money as I plan to charge with 5x the work and trouble. I dont wish to just "rent rooms" - I am in the hospitality business and believe Inns should be run by trained people, have health inspections, and look forward to running a good business, these are things that "should" make an Inn, B&B, or small hotel desireable to travellers. BUT, thats not the new wave of things... My 40-something generation and below are perfectly content to rent a room off Airbnb - its "hip" and "cool" and fast and they care less about hospitality as they do cost. Within 2 years I predict that the taxation and regulation of small businesses like B&Bs will be crushed by Airbnb who holds none of their "hosts" to any standards. I ask you, why am I paying fortunes for permits, inspections, liscenses and meeting hundreds of requirements when Airbnb "hosts" can rent rooms without any of this? And why are they exempt from sales tax when I have to give state and local sales tax AND I will need to claim (once we open next year) that income on my federal (and state) taxes. HOW CAN AIRBNB RENTERS NOT PAY TAXES??? How can they go unregulated? It really is not appealing to potential small business (hospitality) persons to go through the trouble of being a legitimate business with Airbnb tempting people to rent their rooms or apartments or "pool houses" with NO taxation or regulation or setting up as a business. The technology may be way ahead of us and too hard to stop at this point, and frankly, it is a great place to advertise a travel business - - - but cant the FTC mandate to Airbnb that anyone who posts their rooms on the site will be subject to state and local sales tax like the rest of us???? I dont care if it stops people from using Airbnb... there is absolutely no fairness in a wen world exempt from that of the B&B/hotel world here on earth.