PETALING JAYA: The customs department said foreigners coming to stay in Malaysia and booking their accommodation on AirBnB will be paying the RM10 tourism tax, The Malaysian Reserve reported.
This was contrary to earlier speculation that foreigners staying with their AirBnB hosts in Malaysia will escape paying the RM10 tourism tax, which had been a bone of contention with some hoteliers.
Customs department director-general Subromaniam Tholasy said that officials from the San Francisco-based property-sharing services company recently met with the relevant authorities here.
"The collection would be done in a similar mechanism like the hotels now" he was quoted as saying by the financial publication on the tax which came into effect last month.
On April 6 this year, the Dewan Rakyat had tabled the Tourism Tax Bill 2017, which imposed a multi-tiered tourism tax on all hotel accommodation in Malaysia, regardless of the guests being Malaysians or foreigners. The new law came under much criticism, leading to the government making further amendments at the next sitting in July.
So, on July 26, Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat that foreigners will have to pay a flat fee of RM10 per room per night, regardless of the star rating of a hotel.
"With the flat rate, no complex mechanism is needed to collect the taxes.
"The flat rate will make it easier for customs to collect taxes based on the number of rooms booked at a hotel" he had said, adding that the flat fee also makes it easier for tourists to know how much they have to pay, based on the number of nights they plan to stay.
According to TMR, Airbnb said it had no issue paying the taxes and will work with the local authorities.
"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" an AirBnB spokesperson told TMR in an email.
The company added that it currently hosts 17,270 active listings in Malaysia, and estimated that its revenue from AirBnB properties in Kuala Lumpur alone to be about RM29 million based on the average rental and occupancy.