JERSEY SHORE, NJ — When state lawmakers approved a new tax on short-term vacation rentals, it was only to apply to online rental services, such as Airbnb.
Or that’s what everyone thought — until the tax actually took effect in October and individual homeowners who rent directly to vacationers learned that they would be required to collect the hefty 11.6 percent tax as well.
The revelation triggered the formation of NJ Shore Rentals Coalition, a group of vacation homeowners at the Jersey Shore that has been fighting back “the shore tax” ever since, focusing their efforts on getting the law changed.
“The legislation was not intended to tax rent-by-owners. The original bill was to tax Airbnb and other similar services,” said coalition spokesman Duane Watlington, who rents out a Long Beach Island home. “The wordsmithing (of the bill) was not right, and private owners got caught in the web.”
Working with a public advocate and state legislators, the coalition has been helping to craft new legislation to change the language so that rentals by individual homeowners would be exempt.
Companion measures in both the state Senate (S-3133) and Assembly (A-4520) have garnered the support of nearly 30 legislators, including Assemblyman Edward “Ned” Thomson (R-Monmouth/Ocean), whose district includes Belmar and Lake Como.
“This tax would have an unfair, adverse effect on summer property owners,” Thomson said, explaining the added cost would deter vacationers from coming to the Jersey Shore.
Watlington agreed: “Rather than spend the extra money on the tax, they may decide to go to the Outer Banks or try a cruise. Those who do come to the Jersey Shore would have less money to spend.”
As for getting the law changed for this upcoming season, coalition organizers acknowledge that time is of the essence. March usually triggers the start of the reservation season for summer rentals.
In its latest post, the NJ Shore Rentals Coalition reports that the language in the legislation has been revised to address concerns related to complying with the Federal Internet Tax Freedom Act. It is now awaiting a fiscal impact report from the state.
“We are hopeful that the legislature will be considering this legislation very soon in order to salvage this summer rental season," it stated.
To learn more about the coalition, visits its website by clicking here.
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