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Arlington adjusts hotel tax calculation to target online brokers

Beds in the Renaissance and Residence Inn hotels in Crystal City (staff photo)

The Arlington County Board has tweaked an existing lodging tax, making sure it covers the entire bill.

The Board passed the measure Saturday, which means the existing 5.25% tax affecting hotels and other lodging will also now apply to any accommodation fees charged by intermediaries, such as Airbnb and online booking sites.

“Before, transient occupancy taxes were collected and remitted… by hotels and other lodging providers based on the amount of the room charge paid by the guest,” county spokesperson Cara O’Donnell said in an email.

Last year the state legislature updated the law authorizing a Transient Occupancy Tax, which is paid by lodging customers, allowing localities like Arlington to make the change. It also requires that a portion of proceeds be sent to the Virginia Tourism Authority.

For Arlington County’s tax, just under 5% of the money collected will go to promote tourism and business travel in Arlington.

The update also suggests that intermediaries, such as online companies, will have to collect and send the tax to the government.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether that means Airbnb hosts with smaller rental setups will no longer have to file monthly tax reports.

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