I don’t the know the laws in your county or state but I would be very careful about what a county worker says. I also don’t know if it is illegal to collect lodging tax and not remit it…even if the county says you are not required to turn it in. I am not sure what the “terminology” is but I have heard that some states will waive all late penalties, etc. if a person comes forward and says they didn’t realize they were supposed to be collecting and remitting lodging tax. Then they pay all the back taxes penalty free. While I understand this is not exactly your situation…I would want to get rid of the taxes now - just in case they later decide to impose fines.
Are you familiar with the way Flipkey functions? They too hold guest’s money until after check in; however, they just pass along the tax amount to the owner for remittance. The same goes for Homeaway’s system - it doesn’t matter if owners on the commission model or the subscription model.
I think I may know where your county is coming from, but it depends on the laws. In NC the “facilitator” (Air, FK, HA) is required to give the owner the amount of taxes collected from the guest - this is to be done within a certain amount of days. IF this IS NOT done, then facilitator becomes liable for the taxes. So in essence, NC kind of took the same stance. If Air is not willing to put in a tax line and remit the taxes to me within such and such time - then Air becomes the responsible party.
However, only the state clarified this, not my county. My county rep. (I know her by name) danced around the issue. And kind of insinuated I would be held responsible. But my county follows same laws as the state. So that wouldn’t be correct. I told my county rep. that I would continue to collect in cash, and submit monthly along with the tax collected from all my other bookings.
The one issue that came up though was the lodging tax on the booking fee collected by Air. NC charges lodging tax on everything - not just the rental rate and cleaning fee. This includes the booking fee too. So if a guest pays $100 booking fee, then they also will pay $11.75 tax on that amount. The rep. told me since Air does not remit to me the booking fee, then it was clear that I had no responsibility to collect.
Honestly, I would try to get something in writing that you are not, were not responsible for any past Air reservations, and find a way to remit that tax. Or you would need to send it back to the guests. I just cannot see how Air would have any authority later down the road to demand back payment from you. If Air is the responsible party then they will be required to pay the back taxes.