Plans for beach vacations are in full swing this summer. If you are renting out your house in the Hamptons using Airbnb for less than 30 days, make sure occupancy tax is being collected and remitted. Lodging in Suffolk County on a short-term basis requires payment of the hotel/motel tax. Compliance with the law is essential to avoid repercussions that can impact you and your business.

Pursuant to Chapter 523, Article II of the Laws of Suffolk County, the Hotel and Motel Occupancy Tax requires operators of short-term lodging facilities to register with the County and obtain a Certificate of Authority to collect the tax. Effective June 1, 2023, the tax rate imposed is 5.5% (previously 3%) of the per-diem rental rate for each room. Operators of hotels and motels include owners or proprietors of the premises, lessees, sublessees, mortgagees in possession, or licensees. Covered facilities that provide lodging services on an overnight basis include bed-and-breakfast (B&Bs), inns, cabins, cottages, campgrounds, tourist homes, convention centers, and even residences that charge a fee. The federal and state government and qualified charitable organizations are exempt.

Registration must be made with the County within 10 days of the first lodging rental. The Certificate of Authority must be prominently displayed by the operator within the premises in a manner that notifies occupants. Operators are required to file a tax return and pay the tax to the County on a quarterly basis. Take note that only short-term rentals of 30 consecutive days are covered by the law. If the stay exceeds 30 days, it is considered “permanent residence” (for purposes of Suffolk County law), and the tax will not apply. Any prior charge collected can be refunded to the occupant.

The penalty for non-compliance includes a fine of $50 per day of non-registration per facility. If failure to pay was willful, an additional fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of one year can be imposed. The County Comptroller has observed that there is substantial non-compliance with the law, which is why the office now aims to enforce it vigorously. This means covered facilities must ensure they are compliant with the registration, filing, and payment requirements. Doing so will help avoid those consequences and thus provide more seamless service to patrons.

Registration and tax payments can be made by using this portal: Self (govplatform.com)

General information about the law can be found here: Suffolk County Comptroller’s Office > Hotel Motel Tax (suffolkcountyny.gov)

Thank you Richmund C. Sta. Lucia for this week’s Tax Tracker!