Susie Grynol, president of the Hotel Association of Canada, speaks at a news conference calling on the federal government to take action on tax avoidance by digital platforms such as Airbnb, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

On tax deadline day, hotels urge Ottawa to tax Airbnb

Hotel Association of Canada says taxing online rental company could bring in $100 million a year

Canada’s hotels are asking the federal Liberal government to take a heavier hand with online rental services like Airbnb and force the platforms to collect and remit sales tax.

The Hotel Association of Canada has been lobbying the government for more than a year to make online rental services collect and remit sales taxes, estimating the cost of not doing so to be some $100 million in revenues annually from Airbnb alone, not including other rental services.

Two provinces and several Canadian cities have already taken steps to regulate such businesses.

READ MORE: Airbnb to collect provincial sales tax in B.C.

But while federal officials have been receptive to the idea and are “critically aware” that there is an issue they need to tackle, they are struggling to find ways to tax digital services, said association president Susie Grynol.

“The government has a responsibility to keep up with the times and other governments around the world have done so, so it’s time for Canada to take some action as well,” Grynol told a news conference Monday.

Pressure from domestic businesses has been building on the Trudeau government to apply sales taxes to online services providers like Airbnb and Netflix, arguing that different tax treatments create an unequal playing field.

Last week a Liberal-dominated Commons committee urged Ottawa to make online service providers based outside the country collect and remit sales taxes on as part of a series of recommendations to help Canada’s small businesses compete online.

The international trade committee’s report on e-commerce issues recommended the government apply sales taxes “on tangible and intangible products” sold through online platforms, and tax the profits from those sales.

During question period Monday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Canada was working with other OECD countries to co-ordinate tax policies so internet giants are appropriately taxed.

Airbnb agrees to collect provincial taxes on short-term rentals in Quebec and B.C., and the company has previously said it would be willing to work with governments on further tax collection agreements.

In the rest of the country, it is up to hosts to collect sales tax and provide it to the federal government. The company has partnered with the Canada Revenue Agency to increase tax compliance, last year providing statements of earnings and educational materials to its more than 55,000 hosts.

Grynol said she would like to see the various platforms be proactive in either collecting sales taxes.

Ahead of this year’s budget, the company asked the Commons finance committee to recommend the Liberals “apply a light regulatory touch” to the online rental sector, noting that most of its hosts “are home sharing on an occasional basis.”

As for taxation, the committee submission asked the Liberals to take a “progressive and forward-looking approach.”

“Airbnb helps to democratize revenue by generating new tax revenue through hotel and tourist taxes that governments can dedicate to existing critical services, or governments can work with us to develop funding and tools to support new programs that help their middle-class citizens and address local social challenges.”

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Following Pacific Northwest LNG, there will be no future projects proposed near Flora Bank

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Most Read