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Florida Keys short-term rentals, hotels ordered to close down starting Sunday

  • Mar 20, 2020 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Smathers Beach, Florida Keys

Monroe County, Florida, has ordered all hotels in the Florida Keys to close for 14 days starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. The order includes short-term rentals, but people staying in vacation rentals with a contract for longer than 28 days can stay until the end of their contract. Short-term rentals and hotels are no longer allowed to take new reservations.

The order is designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. No cases have been identified in the Keys, although 30 people have been tested and results are pending. Monroe County recently reported its first case of the disease, a 72-year-old woman who apparently contracted it in the U.K.

Monroe County has about 16,500 lodging units, including short-term rentals.

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered the closure of gyms and restaurants, which can still offer delivery and takeout and can now offer alcohol to go. The order is in place until the state lifts its state of emergency. Many public beaches have also been closed.

In most places in Florida, hotels and short-term rentals have not been forced to close, but short-term rental hosts have already faced a flood of cancellations as visitors stop traveling. Refund policies differ depending on the online marketplace where a rental is listed.

Many states are offering tax measures designed to help businesses, such as extending deadlines or waiving late fees on tax payments. In Florida, the Department of Revenue will offer flexibility on tax due dates, including corporate income taxes and sales taxes, to help businesses adversely affected by the new coronavirus closures. Some corporate income tax payments can be deferred until the end of the fiscal year, DeSantis said.

Florida is also supplementing federal Small Business Administration (SBA) loans with a bridge loan program for small businesses with between two to 100 employees.

Short-term rental hosts may qualify for relief as a result of federal measures designed to help businesses and individuals financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most important measures so far for short-term rental owners is additional time to file and pay federal income tax.

  • The federal income tax deadline for filing and payment has been delayed from April 15 to July 15.
  • The deadline for sending in estimated tax payments for 2020 has also been delayed until July 15.

For updated information on federal and state measures that can help short-term rental hosts affected by the pandemic, see our blog post.

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.