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How to handle lodging taxes during the solar eclipse

  • Aug 18, 2017

Solar Eclipse
For many Americans, the total solar eclipse that will darken skies on Aug. 21 will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For the 13+ states in the path of totality, it could be a rare opportunity to generate a tremendous amount of tax revenue — especially lodging tax revenue.

While some enthusiasts will board a plane to experience the eclipse in an ideal location, most will take to the highway. Heavy traffic is already clogging roads in Oregon, where approximately 1 million people are heading to experience the path of totality. On the other side of the country, 547,000 to 2,188,000 souls are expected to travel to view totality in South Carolina. Many of these folks will need a place to lay their head.

Lodging in the path of totality has been mostly booked for months, though spots are still available on Airbnb, HomeAway, and Hipcamp, an online travel service that helps tent-toting eclipse watchers connect with landowners willing to open their fields and farms for the event.

If you’re planning on sharing your home (or field) for the event, be sure to remember your lodging tax obligations. Two state departments of revenue have gone out of their way to provide information relating to tax compliance and the eclipse: Idaho and Wyoming.


Apparently, the Idaho Tax Commission has been “seeing online ads and roadside signs offering Idaho eclipse visitors rooms and homes to rent for lodging or spots to rent for overnight camping.” In response, it’s published “Selling or renting out during the solar eclipse? Get your tax permits now.”

The message tax authorities hope to get across is unequivocal: “If you’re thinking of selling or renting to [eclipse visitors] during the festivities, you’ll need to collect and remit the Idaho sales and lodging taxes that apply.” Yes, even if it’s just for one day.

Several taxes apply to lodging rentals in Idaho: Idaho sales tax, lodging tax (the travel and convention tax), and “any other local sales tax that applies.” These taxes apply whether you’re renting out an entire home, one room, or space in your driveway. Temporary permits may be used for sales tax as well as the travel and convention tax, unless you plan to rent out your home (or driveway) regularly. Additional information.

Airbnb collects and remits taxes for hosts in Idaho, but you should still connect with the Tax Commission to ensure all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.


The Wyoming Department of Revenue advises individuals renting out private residences or private acreage during the eclipse to apply for a Temporary business permit — unless the plan is to continue renting out lodging after the eclipse. In that case, you should apply for a Wyoming sales/use tax license.

Obtaining the appropriate license is step one. Next, you must collect the applicable taxes at the proper rate from your guests. Finally, you’ll have to file return(s) and remit collected taxes to the Department of Revenue. Additional information.

If a third party such as Airbnb or VRBO is collecting and remitting tax on your behalf in Wyoming, the temporary business permit isn’t needed. Still, it’s always wise to connect with tax authorities to ensure all your obligations are fulfilled.

Other states

If you live in or near the path of totality in another state, you’ll have to do a little more digging to determine your lodging tax obligations. The fact that the tax authorities haven’t made it easy to uncover information doesn’t mean you don’t have to collect and remit applicable lodging taxes.

Tax automation software helps property owners quickly and easily comply with lodging and occupancy tax requirements, even for short-term rentals. Learn more at Avalara MyLodgeTax.

photo credit: skyseeker Total Solar Eclipse 2016 in Indonesia via photopin (license)

Lodging tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.