Westchester County
New York

Local Law
LL-2018-16

Westchester County Room Occupancy Tax

Information

Department:County ExecutiveSponsors:County Executive
Category:Amendment to Local Law

Body

A LOCAL LAW amending Chapter 285 of the Laws of Westchester County relating to the Westchester County Room Occupancy Tax.

Meeting History

Oct 29, 2018 7:00 PM Video Board of Legislators Regular Meeting

On motion of Ms. Parker the above item was received, filed and referred to the Committees on Budget & Appropriations and Legislation.

RESULT:REFERRED TO COMMITTEE
Nov 5, 2018 1:00 PM Video Legislation Committee Meeting

Leg. Shimsky announced that today we will be discussing Items #11375/11376-Westchester County Room Occupancy Tax. Our guests are County Attorney John Nonna, Chief Deputy County Attorney S. Dolgin-Kmetz and Deputy County Attorney Linda Trentacoste.

Mr. Nonna began by giving some background on the legislation. Back in the spring, the County was approached by representatives of Airbnb about entering into a voluntary agreement for them to collect a hotel occupancy tax. They had entered into this agreement with other counties in New York State. In order to move forward we first have to amend our occupancy tax law to define it so it would include Airbnb type rentals. They are still negotiating the agreement, but are now ready to submit the legislation to start moving through the legislative process because they have almost completed the negotiations.

Ms. Trentacoste walked the committees through the changes, noting that definitions had been changed to remove "four rooms" The rest of the definitions have been altered to in order to mirror that which NYS and New York City have done for room remarketers. We have changed the language to include not only remarketers like Expedia, but also Airbnb and other internet-based platforms.

The Section 2 amends the exempt organizations to eliminate the limitation of the four marketable rooms.

Section 3 amends the room occupancy tax law to include internet transactions relating to the occupancy of any room within the territorial limits of Westchester County.

Section 4 requires an electronic version of the certificate of authority which is something that the Commissioner of Finance issues to the hotels locally and that such certificate be posted on the internet

Section 5 amends the Laws of Westchester County to authorize Westchester County to enter into this agreement with Airbnb. Ms. Trentacoste noted that this is one of the things that they especially wanted with respect to this legislation.

Section 6 relates to record keeping and requiring that Internet platforms also maintain records of transactions for a period of up to 3 years so that we can do appropriate auditing.

Section 7 clarifies the power of the Commissioner of Finance to audit and subpoena records relating to the room occupancy tax, if necessary.

Section 8 relates to any references to the occupancy tax and must clearly state that it is an occupancy tax, not anything else.

Section 9 - new section-tax fraud-is very similar to the NYC tax fraud section dealing with unlawful actions by entities seeking to avoid the occupancy tax.

Section 10 applies to the applicability of other laws, particularly the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law.

Section 11 sets the date to take effect for Dec. 1. 2018.

Ms. Trentacoste mentioned there is a lawsuit pending, but does not apply to Airbnb. It is currently on appeal and is on the calendar for early next year.

Ms. Trentacoste explained that now the Airbnb site will have the certificate, not each separate location. Comm. of Finance Berg. noted that each hotel, if they want to be compliant with the current law submits an application with name of organization and if it's in good standing, they will issue a certificate of authority. This law is saying that since this is internet based, the certificate would have to be posted on their website. There is no law that would require this tax be shared with the local municipalities. The tax is collected quarterly.

Leg. Covill noted two errors under definition of Operator- 1st sentence put "a" before the word "hotel". 3rd sentence - correct spelling of "sublesee" to "sublessee".

A discussion followed.

Leg. Barr suggested changing the effective date to January, 1, 2019.

On motion of Legislator Burrows and seconded by Legislator A. Williams, this item was approved as amended with a vote of 5 - 0.

To view this meeting, please go to: http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx

RESULT:SIGNED BY COMMITTEE
Nov 5, 2018 1:01 PM  Budget & Appropriations Committee Meeting

Mr. Nonna began by giving some background on the legislation. Back in the spring, the County was approached by representatives of Airbnb about entering into a voluntary agreement for them to collect a hotel occupancy tax. They had entered into this agreement with other counties in New York State. In order to move forward we first have to amend our occupancy tax law to define it so it would include Airbnb type rentals. They are still negotiating the agreement, but are now ready to submit the legislation to start moving through the legislative process because they have almost completed the negotiations.

Ms. Trentacoste walked the committees through the changes, noting that definitions had been changed to remove "four rooms" The rest of the definitions have been altered to in order to mirror that which NYS and New York City have done for room remarketers. We have changed the language to include not only remarketers like Expedia, but also Airbnb and other internet-based platforms.

The Section 2 amends the exempt organizations to eliminate the limitation of the four marketable rooms.

Section 3 amends the room occupancy tax law to include internet transactions relating to the occupancy of any room within the territorial limits of Westchester County.

Section 4 requires an electronic version of the certificate of authority which is something that the Commissioner of Finance issues to the hotels locally and that such certificate be posted on the internet

Section 5 amends the Laws of Westchester County to authorize Westchester County to enter into this agreement with Airbnb. Ms. Trentacoste noted that this is one of the things that they especially wanted with respect to this legislation.

Section 6 relates to record keeping and requiring that Internet platforms also maintain records of transactions for a period of up to 3 years so that we can do appropriate auditing.

Section 7 clarifies the power of the Commissioner of Finance to audit and subpoena records relating to the room occupancy tax, if necessary.

Section 8 relates to any references to the occupancy tax and must clearly state that it is an occupancy tax, not anything else.

Section 9 - new section-tax fraud-is very similar to the NYC tax fraud section dealing with unlawful actions by entities seeking to avoid the occupancy tax.

Section 10 applies to the applicability of other laws, particularly the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law.

Section 11 sets the date to take effect for Dec. 1. 2018.

Ms. Trentacoste mentioned there is a lawsuit pending, but does not apply to Airbnb. It is currently on appeal and is on the calendar for early next year. Ms. Trentacoste explained that now the Airbnb site will have the certificate, not each separate location. Commissioner of Finance Berg noted that each hotel, if they want to be compliant with the current law submits an application with name of organization and if it's in good standing, they will issue a certificate of authority. This law is saying that since this is internet based, the certificate would have to be posted on their website. There is no law that would require this tax be shared with the local municipalities. The tax is collected quarterly. Legislator Covill noted two errors under definition of Operator- 1st sentence put "a" before the word "hotel". 3rd sentence - correct spelling of "sublesee" to "sublessee". A discussion followed. Legislator Barr suggested changing the effective date to January, 1, 2019.

On motion of Legislator Parker and seconded by Legislator A. Williams, this item was approved as amended with a vote of 8 - 0.

To view this meeting, please go to: http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx

RESULT:SIGNED BY COMMITTEE
Dec 3, 2018 10:30 AM Video Board of Legislators Regular Meeting

Submitted by COMMITTEES ON LEGISLATION AND BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS.

Ms. Shimsky and Ms. Borgia presented the report and the Local Law and moved that the report be received, filed and approved and the Local Law adopted, which motion was carried by the following vote.

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
AYES:Catherine Parker, John G. Testa, Nancy Barr, Catherine Borgia, Gordon A. Burrows, Terry A. Clements, Kitley Covill, Margaret A Cunzio, Christopher Johnson, Michael Kaplowitz, Damon Maher, MaryJane Shimsky, David J. Tubiolo, Alfreda Williams, Lyndon Williams, Benjamin Boykin
ABSENT:Virginia Perez