New Short-Term Rental Tax, Tobacco 21 On Normal Council's Agenda | WGLT

New Short-Term Rental Tax, Tobacco 21 On Normal Council's Agenda

Nov 18, 2018

It may soon cost a little bit more to book a short-term rental property in Normal.

The Normal Town Council on Monday will consider a proposal for a new 6 percent short-term rental tax that would impact properties listed on Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and other sites. For someone renting an Airbnb house for $100 a night, the renter would have to pay $6 more because of the tax.

The tax comes in response to a growing market for short-term rental properties in Bloomington-Normal. Traditional hotel operators say sites like Airbnb have an unfair advantage because they don't pay the same hotel/motel tax or abide by the same safety standards. The Bloomington-Normal Hotel and Lodging Association has asked the Bloomington and Normal councils to take “swift” action on Airbnb regulation.

Those who rent their properties on Airbnb say they’re offering a different product than a traditional hotel. They say low hotel occupancy rates are a result of overexpansion of hotels, not Airbnb.

If enacted, Normal town staff says it’ll generate around $6,500 in revenue annually. The tax would be paid by the rental guest, collected by the intermediary company (like Airbnb), and sent to the town.

Airbnb already collects and remits state hotel taxes, but not local hotel taxes. 

Raising Age To Buy Cigarettes 

In other business, the Normal Town Council will also vote on a measure that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. 

So far 26 other Illinois communities have done the same, including Peoria and Washington. Supporters of the Tobacco 21 movement are pushing similar ordinances across the country, citing myriad health benefits.

If approved, the change would go into effect Dec. 1. Vendors caught selling tobacco or related products to those under 21 will be subject to a $50 fine for a first offense and a $500 fine for repeat offenses. 

Monday’s proposed ordinance change would also prohibit vaping (electronic smoking device) in Town of Normal-owned buildings.

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