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SF Tells Vacation Rental Hosts It's Time to Pay Taxes

Owners will be asked to itemize everything

Starting next week, San Francisco officials will ask the owners of short-term rentals to pay taxes on everything used in their properties, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

According the the article, hosts for services like Airbnb and VRBO will be asked to provide a detailed list of everything used in their units. Taxable items include: "furniture, appliances, supplies, equipment, and fixtures." These objects are considered by the assessor's office as taxable "business personal" items, and owners will be on the hook for a "tax slightly over 1 percent" of the value of these articles.

Anything in any part of the home that's rented is fair game, for some that could be a single room, for others an entire house. Items purchased before the property was rented are not exempt from the tax — although depreciation will be factored in.

According to Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, hosts wanted it this way. She told a Chronicle reporter, "We have heard loud and clear from [hosts] that they want to be treated like everybody else and are willing to pay taxes like everybody else. They are operating their homes as a business and so we are treating them as we would any other business. We believe when all is said and done...the assessed values will be quite low."

The Chronicle reports that owners should detail it all on Form 571-R. People with questions can call the assessor's office. Forms can be turned in before May 10. After that, penalties start to accrue. People who ignore the notice are subject to a fine that's 10 percent of their belongings value.

Predictably, Airbnb was incensed. In a statement to the newspaper they said it was "an invasion of privacy."