Houfy Tax Guidelines

8 months ago
4 min read

Tax advise for Short-term Lodging/Vacation Rentals & Hotels:

There are only a few countries and states that exempt short-term lodging/vacation rentals/hotels from taxes. Short term renting triggers the requirement to collect and remit taxes. These taxes (known by many names: sales tax, occupancy tax, lodging tax, room tax, accommodations tax, bed tax, hotel tax, etc.) are different from the income taxes, which are filed once a year.

These taxes are paid to City, County and/or State tax agencies each month and quarter. They play an important part in funding the local infrastructure where your rental resides such as tourism promotion, beach preservation, transportation system, airline subsidies, snow removal and other operating costs to support tourist visitation.

As the popularity and growth of short term renting & specifically vacation rentals has risen; so, has the enforcement of these taxes. Tax agencies nationwide and internationally are monitoring vacation rental sites in search of violators.

These taxes are charged on total consideration (money or value) received from the renter, including rent, cleaning fees and any other mandatory fees such as a booking fee, extra person charge, pet fee, etc. Refundable deposits are not taxable.

For US residents: Please review below: Topic 415 from the IRS

Topic 415 - Renting Residential and Vacation Property

If you receive rental income for the use of a dwelling unit, such as a house or an apartment, you may deduct certain expenses. These expenses, which may include mortgage interest, real estate taxes, casualty losses, maintenance, utilities, insurance, and depreciation, will reduce the amount of rental income that is subject to tax.

You will generally report such income and expenses on Form 1040 (PDF),U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and on Form 1040, Schedule E (PDF), Supplemental Income and Loss.

If you are renting to make a profit and do not use the dwelling unit as a personal residence, then your deductible rental expenses may be more than your gross rental income. Your rental losses, however, generally will be limited by the "at-risk" rules and/or the passive activity loss rules. For information on these limits, refer to Publication 925 , Passive Activities and At-Risk Rules.

If you rent a dwelling unit to others that you also use as a personal residence, limitations may apply to the rental expenses you can deduct. You are considered to use a dwelling unit as a personal residence if you use it for personal purposes during the tax year for more than the greater of:

  1. 14 days, or
  2. 10% of the total days you rent it to others at a fair rental price.

It is possible that you will use more than one dwelling unit as a personal residence during the year. For example, if you live in your main home for 11 months, your home is a dwelling unit used as a personal residence. If you live in your vacation home for the other 30 days of the year, your vacation home is also a dwelling unit used as a personal residence unless you rent your vacation home to others at a fair rental value for 300 or more days during the year.

A day of personal use of a dwelling unit is any day that it is used by:

  • You or any other person who has an interest in it, unless you rent your interest to another owner as his or her main home under a shared equity financing agreement
  • A member of your family or of a family of any other person who has an interest in it, unless the family member uses it as his or her main home and pays a fair rental price
  • Anyone under an agreement that lets you use some other dwelling unit
  • Anyone at less than fair rental price

If you use the dwelling unit for both rental and personal purposes, you generally must divide your total expenses between the rental use and the personal use based on the number of days used for each purpose. You will not be able to deduct your rental expense in excess of the gross rental income limitation (your gross rental income less the rental portion of mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and casualty losses, and rental expenses like realtors's fees and advertising costs). However, you may be able to carry forward some of these rental expenses to the next year, subject to the gross rental income limitation for that year. If you itemize your deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions, you may still be able to deduct your personal portion of mortgage interest, property taxes, and casualty losses on that schedule.

There is a special rule if you use a dwelling unit as a personal residence and rent it for fewer than 15 days. In this case, do not report any of the rental income and do not deduct any expenses as rental expenses.

Another special rule applies if you rent part of your home to your employer and provide services for your employer in that rented space. In this case, report the rental income. You can deduct mortgage interest, qualified mortgage insurance premiums, real estate taxes, and personal casualty losses for the rented part, subject to any limitations, but do not deduct any business expenses. For information on these limits, refer to Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home (Including Use by Daycare Providers).

If you have a rental income, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). For more information, refer to Topic 559.

For more information on offering residential property for rent, refer to Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes).


Are pet fees taxable? Pet fees are taxable in some jurisdictions.  Please check with the specific tax jurisdiction(s) to determine whether or not pet fees are considered taxable revenue.

Are cleaning fees taxable? Any charge that is mandatory or a condition of the rental is taxable, and therefore should be included in the revenue that you report at the end of the tax period. If cleaning is not optional, then it is taxable.

Lodging & Hotel Tax Compliance Software - Avalara
Simplify your lodging taxes You face a host of tax compliance challenges when you run a hotel or rent out your vacation home. Let Avalara help, with solutions and services that manage licenses, calculate tax, prepare and file returns, and more.

Every Airbnb Host's Tax Guide
The complete tax guide for Airbnb and other short-term rental hosts. This book focuses on the unique tax issues arising from renting residential or vacation property through online rental platforms like Airbnb, FlipKey, TripAdvisor, Craigslist, and VRBO.

4. Square - Configuring Items
Items are what you're selling. You assign prices to these items. You can assign tax rates to these items too. These items and their associated tax rates are associated with the Square Location you assign them.

Last updated: January 22, 2019

I see that taxes are calculated on the total booking, but when I enter a discount, the tax is not adjusted. This is problematic.

a year ago

Absolutely! I get really frustrated when I'm taxed on the before-discount price- and seems pretty silly that they're taxing on a SERVICE too, like cleaning. :(

9 months ago

HI Candida, I can't speak for everyone, but in our locale, we are REQUIRED to tax for cleaning. Remember, if there's a tax on something, it isn't because the owner is keeping the money, it's because they are required to tax it and pass it on to the state/county/city. Believe me, we don't like it any more than you do. :)

7 months ago

I'm also running into the issue where you can't choose to exclude bed tax from long-term stays where it doesn't apply.


As far as taxing services, I've found most jurisdictions tax anything that's a mandatory charge relating to the booking (Nightly charge, cleaning fees, pool heat, etc).

8 months ago

yep. that's in our location too. Even the VRBO or Air Bnb service fee is taxable.

7 months ago
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