Avila Beach
Avila Beach

Airbnb Refunds City Guests After Inadvertently Charging Tax Assessments

Author: Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector
Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 4:54 PM

Airbnb guests who recently stayed in SLO County's incorporated cities are being refunded tourism taxes that were mistakenly charged by Airbnb.


In implementing the County tax collection agreement on Oct. 1, Airbnb mistakenly activated collection of County Tourism Marketing District (TMD) assessments (1%) on properties located within city boundaries. As a result, Airbnb will automatically refund guests who booked Airbnb stays on or after Oct. 1 in any of the seven incorporated cities of SLO County.  

The TMD assessment is still applicable in both SLO County’s incorporated cities and unincorporated areas. However, Airbnb’s agreement with the County only applies the tax collection to properties in the unincorporated areas. Hosts with properties within incorporated city boundaries must continue collect their own Transient Occupancy Taxes and pay those to the cities. Each city will then remit the assessments to the TMD.

“Airbnb corrected the mistake and is in the process of refunding guests for the assessments,” said County Assistant Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector Jim Hamilton. “The County government doesn’t have the authority to sign an agreement on behalf of local cities, which is why our contract only applies to unincorporated areas of SLO County. Each municipality in SLO County has its own rules with its own authority, which can make the situation confusing."

The mistake was discovered last week and was fixed promptly. Airbnb hosts in the incorporated cities will not be impacted by the refunds.  Under the agreement, Airbnb will collect TOT and any other required assessments on behalf of vacation rental hosts and other lodging operators in the unincorporated areas of the County, and transmit the funds to the County.  If you have any questions please contact the Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office at ttc@co.slo.ca.us or at (805) 781-5831.

Read more about the agreement.