I am finally done with Airbnb. After 2 years of working with them and being a superhost, I have decided (after due advice from my accountant) to take off all my listings from Airbnb by the end of this month. I work with other booking sites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor, and Airbnb has become a nightmare because of its lack of transparency on issues concerning commission and tax.
COMMISSION: Unlike many other booking sites with fixed commission rate, Airbnb states on its website that its commission varies between 0-20%. Last Easter, I had a shocking review from a guest who said he paid 3500 for a room for which I had set a base price of 1800. He was absolutely right in complaining in his review that the room was overpriced. I set a base price of 1800 so that after the inclusion of even a 20% commission plus tax, the final price would be in the range of 2500, which I consider the right price for that room. Till date I have not been able to figure out how Airbnb marked up the price to 3500 (almost double of the base price). When I asked Airbnb if the guest’s claim that they paid 3500 for this room was correct, they refused to confirm this, but instead offered to remove that guest’s review without any questions asked. Seeing just how quick they were to remove a review when asked about their commission was disturbing on many levels: Isn’t their review system just an eyewash? Are they lying on their website about their commission rates? How can I, as a host, expect good reviews if I cannot control or even estimate the final price charged to guests?
TAX: As per Airbnb’s tax information for my jurisdiction, it is stated on their website that tax will collected by Airbnb from guests and remitted to the host’s account once a month. While Airbnb was remitting taxes on time earlier, they did not remit tax on 4 bookings in April. And then for May, they have not remitted tax on ANY booking. I raised a complaint about the non-remitance of tax on April’s bookings. Apart from sending me an e-mail recording my issue, there has been no further response from Airbnb for 20 days. Today, I called customer care to complain about non-remittance of tax for May’s bookings, but I have no faith that their customer care will offer any resolution. The representative I spoke to yesterday said he would call back and did not. The rep I spoke to today was eager to hang up when I badgered him about three pending tax issues. It also does not help that they do not have a local office in my country.
TAX BENEFITS: There is a tax benefit called “input tax credit” that is available in my jurisdiction. This means that I am entitled to claim a refund of tax on Airbnb’s commission on my bookings. However, because Airbnb refuses to disclose the commission amount collected from guests, I cannot avail this benefit. Airbnb has not replied to my request in this regard for nearly 3 months. When I sent two follow-up e-mails, their standard response was: “we are waiting to hear back from the tax team”.
I cannot AFFORD to take bookings from Airbnb any longer. While Airbnb simply pretends to address these issues, I am forced to pay these taxes out of my own pocket before statutory deadlines and my net loss on Airbnb bookings because of this is as high as 36%. I am in the process of tying up with other booking channels and will say goodbye to Airbnb in a few days. And then I need to sit with my accountant and lawyer to send them a notice to claim the due amounts back.