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For API integrated ownerrez accounts, ask VRBO to handle Florida Sales Tax just like airbnb does

Status: Requested 6 Votes
Haydar B
Sep 5, 2022 2:22 PM
Joined Jan, 2018 5 posts

After API integration with VRBO, we need to submit Florida sales tax ourselves.

It's a huge inconvenience, and requires a lot of extra work on host side, also it's prone to human mistakes. airbnb handles that even after api integration, so it must be technically possible. Please request VRBO to handle that. It is a win-win for everyone, state will not miss unreported taxes, hosts will not have to worry about that, and it will be an incentive for more hosts to enable api integration.

Thanks

 

Chris L
Sep 6, 2022 2:33 PM
Joined May, 2017 174 posts

Actually, it's not possible, because of the way Vrbo integration works (which is very different than Airbnb integration).

When you integrate with Vrbo, you effectively turn into a hotel that runs its own front-desk software, and Vrbo becomes just another OTA booking channel (just like someone booking a hotel room at a Hampton Inn via Expedia). Expedia takes and confirms the booking but the hotel's front desk software charges the card, manages the transaction, handles check-in/check-out, etc. The hotel is 100% in charge of the booking once it comes in.

This is amazing for vacation rental owners, because once the booking comes in, we are 100% in charge of it. We can change it, cancel it, evict someone, charge them for damages, etc. without Vrbo's permission. Vrbo can't even force hosts to cancel a booking, unlike Airbnb. Think of March 2020 when Covid hit: all my Airbnb bookings canceled instantly without any input from me, whereas all my Vrbo bookings remained intact. Now, of course Vrbo tried to incentivize me to allow my guests to cancel by dangling carrots (higher placement in future search results if I allowed cancellations, etc.), but I was still fully in control and could have chosen not to allow cancellations/refunds (and in a number of cases, I negotiated with guests to move their stays to future dates, preserving that income).

With Airbnb, Airbnb still controls the booking in full and can cancel (or not cancel) at any time. If you have bad guests in your house and can't get Airbnb to approve the cancellation, good luck evicting them: at least in my jurisdiction, the police will not enforce an eviction if the reservation is still active and the guest has a legal right to remain in the home. I once had trashy hoarders with two pit bulls in violation of my rental agreement, and the cops would not back me up to get them out until Airbnb approved the cancellation, which took 10 hours from the time I initially reached out to Airbnb.

So this is all related to why Vrbo cannot collect the taxes for you (while Airbnb can): with Vrbo, Vrbo doesn't even collect anything from the guest (except for their service fee), and YOU charge the guest's card and manage all of the charges completely. You can charge more or refund or cancel or extend or do anything you want without Vrbo's input (just like a hotel front desk can), so Vrbo actually doesn't even know what to charge the guest for taxes. Airbnb can collect and remit taxes, because they control the charges and finances and everything and don't even pay out on the booking until after the guest has checked in.

The Vrbo model is way better. Why? With Airbnb, you have no control over the taxes. Have a tax-exempt stay? You can't just delete the taxes; you have to charge the guest the tax and then reimburse them their taxes using the Resolution Center. Have a state/county/city collector after you claiming you didn't remit tax? Good luck getting anyone at Airbnb to provide any kind of help or proof that they did remit the taxes. And that doesn't even cover the cashflow/interest benefits of being able to collect the booking charges up front and then only pay the taxes when they're due (in some cases, many months later). Plus, in my case, my state offers a discount of 5% for timely tax payments--that goes into my pocket if I pay my own taxes instead of Airbnb's or Vrbo's pockets.

Admittedly, signing up for all the taxes and licenses and things yourself can be cumbersome, as is reporting and remitting taxes, but at least in my jurisdiction, it's all pretty straightforward. I previously recommended Avalara MyLodgeTax's services for handling all of this, but they recently raised their set-up fee from $50 per property to $300, which I think is highway robbery, so I no longer recommend them. But unless you have a crazy amount of bureaucratic red tape in your jurisdiction, it's just a bit of paperwork and waiting for them to send you stuff back and well worth the ultimate flexibility that API integration with Vrbo offers.