Avalara MyLodgeTax > Blog > State & Local News > Seattle short-term rental hosts face December 15 registration deadline

Seattle short-term rental hosts face December 15 registration deadline

  • Oct 22, 2019 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Seattle ferry

Short-term rental hosts in Seattle, Washington, have until December 15 to register with the city, after technical difficulties with Seattle’s online registration system pushed the deadline back twice. Airbnb hosts will not be able to book guests after December 15 unless they have a city short-term rental license number.

Seattle’s short-term rental law was originally scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019. However, the city had problems implementing its online application portal, and moved the deadline to September 1. More technical trouble resulted in the deadline being delayed again to December 15.

The city’s online short-term rental registration system had been funded by a nightly short-term rental tax that was repealed last year by the City Council, resulting in the portal losing most of its budget. Starting September 1, the city started charging online short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb a tax of $1 per night per occupied unit, which will help fund the registration platform.

The city has released an improved online portal so that hosts can apply for a license more easily.

The short-term rental law, which was passed in 2017, requires all Seattle short-term rental operators to obtain a city business license tax certificate and a short-term rental license. Hosts must also register non-primary residences with the Seattle Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance program, which means their properties will be inspected for housing and safety standards at least once every five to 10 years.

Vacation rental hosts are allowed to rent out one dwelling unit in addition to their primary residence, with some exceptions for short-term rentals that were legally operating before September 2017.

Starting December 15, the city can fine hosts operating a short-term rental without a license up to $1,000 per day. Short-term rental platforms offer some general data on hosts to the city, but Seattle is using a data-mining service to identify hosts individually so the city can verify that they’re operating legally.

Seattle short-term rental hosts must also collect lodging taxes from their guests and pass them on to tax authorities. Both HomeAway/Vrbo and Airbnb collect lodging taxes for Washington hosts, including combined sales taxes, Convention and Trade Center tax, special hotel/motel tax, regional transit authority tax, and tourism promotion area charges.

Even though these platforms collect lodging taxes on behalf of their hosts, Washington state hosts are still required to register with the state Department of Revenue and file lodging tax returns reporting their rental income.

Washington state vacation rental hosts who do not have platforms collecting taxes for them are responsible for registration, collection, and filing of all taxes due on their short-term rentals. MyLodgeTax can help Seattle short-term rental hosts automate and simplify lodging tax compliance.

For more on short-term rental taxes in Washington state, see our state vacation rental tax guide. If you have tax questions related to vacation rental properties, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you with answers.

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.
Avalara Author
Jennifer Sokolowsky
Avalara Author Jennifer Sokolowsky
Jennifer Sokolowsky writes about tax, legal, and tech topics. She has an extensive international background in journalism and marketing, including work with The Seattle Times, The Prague Post, Avvo, and Marriott.