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Yes, tax Airbnb hosts —but legalize them first

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In its struggle to balance its budget and still keep the trains and buses rolling, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking for new sources of revenue. One idea floated by MTA board member, finance committee chair and Gov. Cuo­mo appointee Larry Schwartz is a dedicated tax on Airbnb rentals. It’s well worth considering.

Anyone operating a de facto hotel without license should not do so with impunity, especially when one can compete unfairly by avoiding taxes. If the gig economy is really to be a permanent part of city life, it can’t be part of a black market.

And the so-called bed tax would generate significant revenue: an estimated $70 million a year from Airbnb alone. That will help, in a modest way, to forestall fare increases that certainly affect those of low income.

It is true, though, that not all or even most Airbnb “hosts” are large property owners. Many, in fact, are outer-borough homeowners. Indeed, Airbnb asserts that 54 percent of its “hosts” in the city say they rely on their guests’ rents to “make ends........

© New York Post

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