By Heather C. Briccetti
When you represent nearly 2,400 businesses from Buffalo to Long Island, it can be difficult to find common ground, especially on new and emerging issues.
But there is one thing that I can always count on our members to agree with: the need to create good jobs and stronger communities. Increasingly, that commitment requires that we accommodate innovations and disruptions which are necessary to achieve overall economic growth that benefits us all. Progress should not be hindered by unnecessary and burdensome red tape.
New York is garnering a reputation as one of the last states to fully embrace the sharing economy. I don’t have to tell you we were woefully behind in legalizing ride-hailing and now our state is impeding home-sharing. Refusing to allow this industry to grow will be to the detriment of New Yorkers, tourists, and the state’s economy.
As the Consumer Technology Association recently reported, New York is dead last in the nation when it comes to policies supporting the middle class by allowing them to share their homes to help make ends meet. The state’s inaction is also sidelining small businesses that have seen an influx of money and investment in communities that foster and promote Airbnb hosts.
Unfathomably, New York is on the precipice of doubling down on a failed strategy that places protectionism ahead of progress. A bill would impose new, harmful regulations on New Yorkers who open their homes to millions of travelers to the Empire State. In doing so, this legislation would limit New Yorkers’ freedom to make choices about their own space and it would inexplicably deny our communities the ability to capitalize on the opportunities that accompany the sharing economy.
This is not to say that we do not support common sense regulation of home-sharing services. New Yorkers who share their homes, as well as their guests, should pay their fair share of taxes. Steps must be taken to combat the few bad actors that seek to abuse this technology.
New York’s inaction, and attempts at going backward in regards to home-sharing has allowed neighboring states, like New Jersey, to infringe on our territory. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy supports legislation that would extend sales and lodging taxes to listings on platforms like Airbnb and allow those platforms to collect taxes on behalf of their hosts. With this, New Jersey would join five of the six New England states, Pennsylvania and 20 counties in New York State that already allow platforms to collect taxes.
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are already sharing their homes to make ends meet. Countless businesses are already thriving from Airbnb guests now visiting local shops, restaurants and cafes. Is our state really willing to ignore or limit this economic opportunity?
Heather C. Briccetti is the president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State.