By Geoff Spillane, Cape Cod Times
June 12, 2017

Lawmakers considering a short-term rental tax took their show on the road Monday, visiting Barnstable Town Hall to gauge public sentiment on the proposal.

“We’re here to listen,” said state Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, D-Boston, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services.

They got an earful.

Nearly 200 people crowded into the second-floor conference room, with more than 50 taking the microphone to offer impassioned testimony. By the end of the 3½-hour meeting, it became clear that owners of rental homes were against the tax. Hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast operators were pushing for the measure, which they said would “level the playing field.”

The tax would affect people who rent homes, apartments or rooms through online services such as Airbnb, HomeAway or Vacation Rental by Owner for less than 30 consecutive days. The state tax would be levied at 5.7 percent with a local option to add up to an additional 6 percent, a policy on par with the current Massachusetts state hotels tax.

The tax, which potentially could go as high as 11.7 percent, would be added on top of fees already charged by the online rental platforms. Airbnb, for example, charges a 6 to 12 percent guest services fee when a reservation is made.

In addition, the tax would require the rental units be regulated to meet health and safety standards, and adequate liability insurance be carried on the properties.

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