Tourism Levy Improvements for Short Term Rental Operators

Tourism Levy Improvements for Short Term Rental Operators

178 have signed. Let’s get to 200!

Why this petition matters

Started by Neil Wagner

Title: Alberta Tourism Levy Improvements 

We, the undersigned residents of Alberta, petition the Legislative Assembly to do the following:

1) Immediately remove excessive fines for late payment - Currently there is a $25/day fee for late filing. This is equivalent to $750/mo. Since the average STR is required to pay $50-150/mo in Tourism Levy this is considered to be very excessive. This fine was most likely created for hotels that generate $20,000+ income per month. There should be a separate asset class from hotels with lower penalties. A good late penalty for short term rentals could be a flat fee or % interest of the outstanding charges.

2) Platform Remittance of the Tourism Levy - Airbnb, VRBO, and others should remit the Tourism Levy. This will generate more income for Alberta in the long term because 100% of the units in the platforms will pay into the Tourism Levy.

3) Fairness with hotels - The Government of Alberta announced a Tourism Levy rebate for only the accommodation providers specifically excluding short term rentals. The government's original purpose of assessing the Tourism Levy to short term rentals was to “‘level the playing field”. This seems to be completely reversed – The government is now giving hotels an advantage. Short term rentals also facilitate the payment of the levy but aren't considered businesses to receive any benefits from the government regarding the covid grants.

The History of the Tourism Levy and The Government of Alberta’s Promises

The current Alberta Government was elected in 2019. This government ran on “cutting red tape” of the government to the extent that they named a minister of “cutting red tape”. In the first budget, the Alberta Government said they were going to charge short term rentals the Tourism Levy to “Even the playing field”.

In an email from 2019 the Finance Minister Travis Toews wrote: 

“Although decisions are still to be made on the details of these changes, we intend to implement them in a way that does not place an unnecessary burden on short-term rental operators. This is why we have committed to working with online marketplaces to facilitate the collection of the levy”

These “intentions” from the finance minister couldn’t be further from the truth of what actually happened.

The law made by the Government of Alberta made the Tourism Levy collection optional for the platforms. So in April 2021 Airbnb/VRBO refused to collect the levy themselves since it was not mandatory. The fact the Government of Alberta made it optional for platforms to collect the levy is a direct departure from Minister Toews promise on “online marketplaces to facilitate the collection of the levy”.

With about 1 weeks notice, the government of Alberta announced that the short term rental operators (not the huge platforms) had to collect and remit the Tourism Levy themselves. And then in May they completely reversed the decision and said short term rental operators did not have to remit the Tourism Levy.

This government promised to “eliminate red tape” yet with these new regulations a short term rental operator needs to have the burden of remitting the Tourism levy themselves.

Thanks for signing the petition!!

Calgary + Edmonton STR Hosting Communities


Some comments from others in the short term rental community:

Joe (Calgary) - “I asked for them to forgive the late penalty fees as it was my 1st time filing. Still waiting after 5 weeks now…”
Kabir (Calgary) - “we’ve been waiting two weeks [to get an answer from late penalty fee] looks like we’re going to be waiting even longer! Ridiculous.”
Tanya (Calgary) - “Also, the website needs a LOT of work. It is unavailable about as often as it actually works.”
Wade (Calgary) - “Yep, just tried, and the website was not working. What a nightmare imaging we are trying to pay our fees, not the other way around.”
Heather (Calgary) - “Airbnb is the one collecting the money, they should remit”
Terry (Edmonton) - “I would like to see STR hosts get the same concessions as hoteliers get.”
Monica (Edmonton) - “If they want it collected, have airbnb collect it. Most of us are small, and the time it takes to calculate everything and submit is really frustrating.”
Eva (Edmonton) - “I take issue with the fact that there’s no way to pay it online without paying a fee!”
Brendan (Calgary) - My first remit was $350 after struggling for weeks getting my account setup then trying to figure out how to pay with the broken links and site. Got charged $300 late fee.

178 have signed. Let’s get to 200!