Room Occupancy Tax Collection isn't Consistent or Reliable, say Kure Beach Town Officials
New Hanover County collected more than ten million dollars in room occupancy tax during the last fiscal year. But officials in Kure Beach aren’t convinced that all property owners who rent on a short-term basis are sending their share to the County.
At a recent CoastLine Candidate Forum for Kure Beach, held September 16th in WHQR's MC Erny Gallery, everyone agreed the status quo isn’t working.
New Hanover County ranked 8th last year for tourism out of all 100 counties in North Carolina.
But Commissioner Emilie Swearingen, who hopes to be the next mayor of Kure Beach, says there’s no way to determine whether all that traffic is producing the right amount of tax revenue – which would help fund beach renourishment.
"We can’t call the county and say, ‘Does this house pay room occupancy tax?’ because the county has no way to track it – no matter what the Board of Realtors or the management companies send to them."
The county should establish a distinct account for each property, says town council candidate Joseph Whitley. The current method means real estate companies bundle tax payments from multiple properties together.
"Because if they have ten properties and they turn in tax receipts for five, how do we know that all of them – but, of course, we have to make sure that they’re rented. So, there’s a lot of legwork with this. This is a very touchy subject."
Earlier this year Airbnb, an online rental platform that connects owners with renters, agreed to collect the tax statewide.
But, says Mayor Dean Lambeth, that doesn’t eliminate the problem.
"We continually ask the county when they’re going to get another representative to check on just this one issue – because we are losing money on it. But we need somebody to step up to the plate whose job it is just to check on all these rental places."
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