Extras on Excise: Airbnb Agrees to Shoulder Pennsylvania Hotel Occupancy Tax Paperwork Burden for Hosts

Airbnb hosts in Pennsylvania will no longer need to worry about collecting hotel occupancy tax now that the site is adding the jurisdiction to its list of states where it collects and remits taxes on behalf of hosts. Beginning July 1, 2016, through an agreement with the department’s secretary, Airbnb is collecting Pennsylvania’s hotel occupancy tax from renter’s short-term lodging in-state through their site.

Generally, Pennsylvania rental hosts that are required to collect and remit hotel occupancy tax must follow a process for filing and remitting taxes to the state’s Department of Revenue. First, taxpayers must register with the department using Form PA-100 to obtain a sales, use and hotel occupancy tax license. Once licensed, they must file returns and remit taxes electronically through e-TIDES.  

What the agreement means for Pennsylvania hosts using Airbnb is that they no longer need to go through the hassle of registering with the department to obtain a license and file such taxes because Airbnb is taking over this task.

This probably comes as a relief to the hosts because there can be multiple taxes to pay. In addition to the statewide 6 percent hotel occupancy tax (which is the same as the state’s sales tax), many counties impose local occupancy taxes.

Some may think that hotel occupancy tax only applies to hotel and motel chains or perhaps an established bed and breakfast, but in reality, the tax applies to many types of lodging facilities. It’s important to remember that state and local hotel occupancy taxes apply in many jurisdictions, even when renting out someone’s home or apartment through room-sharing services. Although someone’s house lacks room service, an overpriced minibar and other trappings of a traditional hotel, it fits the definition in Pennsylvania.

For Pennsylvania tax purposes, a hotel is defined as any building in which the public may, for consideration, obtain sleeping accommodations for periods of less than 30 days. Although an establishment may have other uses for their buildings than just sleeping quarters, they may still be considered a hotel.

Some examples of hotels are the traditional, inns, motels, tourist homes, resorts, and cabins that offer lodging for less than 30 days. Other establishments that fall under the definition of “hotel” include: 

  • apartments that rent some rooms for periods of less than 30 days;

  • public summer camps which have permanent buildings available as sleeping quarters for less than 30 days; and

  • buildings which have floors available for sleeping accommodations for less than 30 days and other floors available for commercial use.

Pennsylvania’s tax regime makes it particularly important for people who advertise a lodging space through third-party brokers and home-sharing websites to stay well-informed as to who is responsible for collecting and remitting state and local tax in order to stay compliant with the law.


Continue the discussion on Bloomberg BNA’s State Tax Group on LinkedIn: Should hotel occupancy tax include non-traditional establishments that offer a place to crash on vacation?

With a free trial to Premier State Tax Library, practitioners have a single trusted resource that provides all of the tools and information they need to develop and implement the right tax strategies.