San Francisco Treasurer Wants Airbnb to Pay Hotel Tax

Mayor Ed Lee may oppose the measure to treat startup like hotels.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Josh Keppel
    A view from a hotel room in San Francisco's Presidio. San Francisco's treasurer wants tech sites like Airbnb to pay the same hotel tax other brick and mortar sites have to play.

    San Francisco made special tax concessions to keep the City home to startups such as Twitter and Zynga.

    But now city Treasurer José Cisneros wants another San Francisco startup to pay taxes for helping others find temporary homes.

    Cisneros said in a ruling Tuesday that the online home rental service Airbnb.com should have to pay San Francisco's hotel tax.

    The City wants the San Francisco-based startup, and other similar sites, to be treated like a hotel and comply with a city transient law that requires anyone who rents out a guest room to pay a 15 percent tax.

    A representative for the treasurer's office told The San Francisco Chronicle that it is not changing any laws but simply clarifying what is already on the books.

    A representative for Airbnb said the City needs to apply more "innovative" laws to tech companies. San Francisco's hotel tax measures were adopted in 1961.

    San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has made making the City more friendly for tech companies a large part of his platform, may not be on board with treating startups like hotels.

    He has met with Cisneros about the issue and plans to hold more meetings with him.

    Airbnb was given a $1 billion valuation last summer.