St. Louis Airbnb hosts to pay increased taxes after city reclassifies residential properties to commercial

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ST. LOUIS – Play by the rules. That’s what the City of St. Louis will require owners of short-term rental properties to abide by. More than 200 of those rental property owners were sent a letter from the assessor’s office telling them that their property rate tax will be increasing. That’s because the city reclassified their properties from residential to commercial. 

Greg Elder told Fox 2/News 11 Tuesday that he puts a lot of money into maintaining one of his Airbnb properties in the Carondelet neighborhood.

“A lot of us feel like we are doing everything we can to move into the St. Louis neighborhoods and be a positive force by fixing up,” he said.

But now as Elder continued to say, he is worried his pockets are about to get really tight and may not be able to sustain the upkeep.

Elder is one of the short-term rental property owners whose taxes are going up from 19 percent to 32 percent. 

“To distinguish us differently from long term rental and to not know whether or not we are taking long term guests is not fair,” Elder added.

City assessor Michael Dauphin said that the city is just enforcing state law.

“We just want to make sure that everyone is taxed fairly,” Dauphin said, “because if you are a business, you should be taxed as a business and making sure the playing field is even.”

Lana Camp-Jessop runs an Airbnb in the Cherokee neighborhood on Iowa Avenue.

Camp-Jessop referred to the tax hike as ‘nickel and diming’ small business owners.

“It’s from one tax to another, we are taxed I think at least four times five times now and yet this will be another hike which will make it even more difficult,” she said.

“We are giving enough taxes to the city, the state you know? You can find taxes in other places to actually help improve the neighborhood.”

She and Elder both said that while they believe the tax spike is unfair, they won’t put that kind of burden on renters. 

“I would love to be able to be competitive with hotels but that’s just not the case,” Camp-Jessop said.

“It’s not about the money,” said Elder, “it’s about the time they are taking away and the desire from me because they are making it such a pain for us to operate.”

Dauphin said there is room for error in the process, that’s why he is encouraging anyone who thinks their properties may have been improperly reclassified to contact the assessor’s office at 314-622-5525.

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