State lawmakers visited Barnstable Town Hall on Monday to hear public testimony on a proposed bill that would tax and regulate short-term rentals through websites like airbnb and Expedia.
While the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce supports the measure as a good way to raise revenue for much-needed regional infrastructure improvements, dozens of Cape residents calling themselves “the little guys” testified in opposition to the bill.
State lawmakers have been working on short-term rental legislation for the past three years. Gov. Charlie Baker filed a proposal with his budget in January to apply the state’s hotel room occupancy tax to residences that are rented for a substantial portion of the year.
House and Senate versions of the bills are under consideration by the Joint Financial Services Committee co-chaired by Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) and Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Middlesex/Worcester).
“We are here to listen,” Michlewitz told the standing-room-only audience, although he said in a written statement, “Our goal has always been to produce a comprehensive and well thought-out plan to regulate and tax short-term rentals.”
The proposed tax would affect people who rent homes, apartments or rooms through online services such as airbnb, HomeAway or Vacation Rental by Owner for less than 30 consecutive days. The state tax would be levied at 5.7 percent, with a local option to add up to another 6 percent—comparable to the current state hotels tax.
Potentially as high as 11.7 percent, the proposed tax would be in addition to fees already…
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