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Jason Rantz


Tax-happy council again makes Seattle unaffordable

(File, Associated Press)

It’s almost like the Seattle City Council is trolling us when council members claim they are concerned about Seattle’s housing affordability crises.

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On the one hand, they will tell us they want to help create affordable housing and make it less expensive to live here. But, on the other hand, they decide to tax people who were just given some rental or mortgage relief.

Many people rent out bedrooms in their homes on Airbnb as a means to more comfortably pay their rent or mortgage. They owe a lot of money every month, they have a room that goes unused, so they offer it up online. Others, who won’t be in their homes for large periods of time, will rent out their entire property on Airbnb so it’s not going unused.This, too, helps them afford the high cost of living in Seattle.

So, naturally, a greedy city council will tax these people, not quite understanding why people use Airbnb.

This week, the council approved a tax of $14 per night when you’re renting out your entire home. For those of you renting out a room, it’s $8 per night. They’ll use this money to set up and administer the tax — because that makes great sense — while putting what’s left over into this nebulous effort to create affordable housing.

Why are they doing it? Because they have a fundamental ignorance of what Airbnb is and why people use the service.

The answer to this is two-fold.

First, the council foolishly thinks when you offer up properties on Airbnb, you’re taking long-term housing units off the market for rental or purchase. This is incorrect. Many use this service to earn extra money and they live in the homes full-time. The council confuses a small percentage that solely uses this platform as a business as the norm.

Second, and this is a whopper of a reason, the council believes “the short-term rental platforms, as part of a new but growing industry, would also benefit from regulation to ensure good business standards and practices.” So a bunch of politicians, who know literally nothing about this growing industry, are the ones regulating it for the industry’s benefit.

Don’t you love this kind of paternalism?

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