Home-sharing rentals may be taxed in New Jersey beginning next year, under a bill with the blessing of Airbnb that took another step through the Legislature on Wednesday.

The bill would impose the same sales and lodging taxes that hotels and motels already collect. In some municipalities, that adds up to 18 percent, said bill sponsor Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union.

“There are many reasons why this bill should be enacted. In a nutshell, it’s really about fairness,” said Quijano.

“The way our laws are right now provide a considerable disadvantage to those who already run hotel and motel businesses and are a considerable hurdle to those contemplating investing in our hotels and motels in this state,” she said.

“I don’t believe that all those who use Airbnb or other services like it are necessarily choosing it because they love the idea of home sharing over a hotel or motel,” Quijano said. “I believe much of the choice is driven by the fact that home sharing services have a huge competitive advantage. They don’t have to pay taxes.”

Airbnb, the best-known of the home-sharing brokers, worked with Quijano for 11 months on the legislation. It already remits taxes to 16 states and says it wants to ensure its hosts pay their fair share of taxes, though it fights other efforts at regulating and limiting short-term home rentals.

The plan moved through the Assembly Budget Committee with support from the committee’s Democrats and one of its Republicans. Two Republicans were opposed, and a fourth intended to abstain but had left the Statehouse before the hearing began.

The legislation wouldn’t take effect for a while, even if it’s passed. It says it would take effect at the start of the calendar quarter that begins at least 90 days after the bill is signed into law. If it were enacted in July, for instance, that would seemingly mean it would start in January.

New Jersey Association of Realtors lobbyist Bruce Shapiro supported the bill, saying it “will bring a level of parity to the playing field.”

New Jersey Hotel & Lodging Association lobbyist Joe Simonetta questioned how Airbnb would collect the taxes but said that, presuming the explanation he received is accurate, that his group is “totally in favor of this.”

Also in favor was Lori Buckelew, a legislative analyst for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, who said 191 municipalities in the state have a local occupancy tax.

“We don’t view this as a new tax but a logical extension of the current tax that will provide parity within the industry and fairness for the taxpayer,” said Buckelew.

Nobody spoke against the proposal.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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