Customs and Airbnb agree to collect bed tax, says DG

The world’s largest accommodation sharing platform has agreed in principle to collect the RM10 tourism tax


Foreigners who book accommodation through Airbnb will soon be subject to the Tourism Tax as the government expands the levy net to include the popular property sharing platform.

Royal Malaysian Customs Department, which is entrusted to collect the Tourism Tax, said that the world’s largest accommodation sharing platform has agreed in principle to collect the RM10 tourism tax on inbound customers.

Customs DG Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy said Airbnb officials have met with local authorities over the bed tax, which is already chargeable for foreign tourists taking up hotels.

“The collection would be done in a similar mechanism like the hotels now,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

The inclusion of Airbnb, which is growing in popularity due to its competitive price, will soothe complaints from hoteliers, especially budget hotels that are slapped with the same tax.

Meanwhile, Airbnb said it has no issue paying the taxes and will work with the local authorities.

The company in an email reply to TMR said presently it hosts 17,270 active listings nationwide and recorded a 130% year-on-year (YoY) growth.

“Airbnb wants to pay taxes, and we’ve partnered governments all over the world to make it easier for our hosts and guests to pay their fair share.

“In fact, as of May this year, we had agreements with over 275 jurisdictions and collected and paid more than US$240 million (RM1.01 billion) in hotel and tourist taxes.

“By doing so on behalf of our host community, Airbnb ensures a simple and streamlined process for them, while also lightening the administrative burden for authorities,” the company’s spokesperson said.

Airbnb has seen an inbound guest growth of 248% YoY, with listings in Kuala Lumpur alone estimated to generate about RM29 million in revenue for based on the average rental and occupancy.

“Airbnb has paid more than US$240 million in hotel and tourist taxes worldwide,” a spokesperson said.

Airbnb said it is working with governments and policymakers around the world to find the best way to collect fair tax revenue from its host community, including in Malaysia.

“We are having meaningful and productive conversations with the Malaysian authorities, and look forward to working with them to reach a fair agreement around the Tourism Tax.”

The company said Malaysia recorded a phenomenal growth of 250% of inbound guests last year and the rental-sharing platform expects the growth will continue. Airbnb will be working with the government to develop a fair regulation and taxation mechanism, and help contribute to Airbnb’s positive and sustainable growth.

The over 5,000 hotels in Malaysia have started collecting tourism tax since early September 2017. Presently, the collection is being done manually as hotel operators seek time to install a proper accounting system to include the bed tax.

In August, the government announced the imposition of the tourism tax, where foreigners were subject to pay RM10 per night during the course of their stay while local tourists and permanent residents were exempted.