Airbnb Tax Deal Stinks
Am I the only one not cheering the news that Airbnb has agreed to collect the lodgers' tax and hospitality fees in Albuquerque and forward them to city government?
Some of the news reports about the deal, especially on the radio, seemed almost celebratory because the city will get more revenue. The Greater Albuquerque Inkeepers association seemed ecstatic about it.
Sure, the city will get more money. But then, visitors will have to pay more for the homes or rooms they rent. Why is that a good thing?
And tell me why that every time a new idea or a new technology comes along that can give us more options, comfort and lower prices, government has to step in tax the crap out of it so that, in the end, things aren't much cheaper.
The hotel industry doesn't like Airbnb because it's taking customers away from them. So what. Who says that any industry is entitled to our business just because they've been around for a long time?
Airbnb reported in September that its bookings in Albuquerque increased by 77 percent in 2017 and that more than 64,000 people booked rooms in the city using its service between June and August. Those are 64,000 people who didn't go to a traditional hotel or motel, and the inkeepers are angry about the loss of business.
Mayor Richard Berry touted the tax deal as something that will provide “clarity and fairness in the tourism and hospitality industry.” And the inkeepers had talked about leveling the playing field.
Why do we need fairness and why do we need a level paying field in business? So existing business that are slow to adapt to change and new technology can keep their business. In other words, we're protecting businesses that don't want to change.
Can you imagine if we had the “level the playing field” mentality in the early twentieth century when Henry Ford came out with his automobiles? The whip and buggy people, and their politician friends, would have demanded that horses be required to pull cars.
The taxi industry, which has been a true monopoly, is crumbling in the face of competition from Uber and Lyft. But rather than adapt and use the same technology that have made the Uber and Lyft successful, the taxi industry is desperately trying to save its obsolete business model through politics, regulations and lawsuits.
And why do we tax the crap out of tourists with lodges taxes and hospitality fees? They generally don't use many city services. They're not out robbing people, burning houses down or visiting senior and community centers.
We tax them because they're easy targets. And that's actually sick. Yet no one challenges the practice and policy of ripping off tourists with punishing taxes.
And why does government have to tax every single transaction between people? Because government has an insatiable appetite for our money and views us cows to be milked for every cent we've got.
So I'm not cheering the Airbnb tax deal. It stinks and is just another way for government to enslave us.