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Colorado ski towns enforcing rental lodging taxes

February 12, 2010 · , , ,

Colorado ski towns enforcing rental lodging taxes

Colorado mountain towns whose lodging tax collections have suffered along with the travel industry are trying to make sure homeowners who rent out rooms pay their fare share to the government.

“They are essentially hotels, and they need to be paying taxes like hotels,” said Telluride Town Manager Frank Bell.

One of Bell’s employees trolls vacation rental Web sites like VRBO.com and Craigslist.com to find private renters violating tax laws or zoning restrictions that bar nightly rentals.

“I think it would be conservative to say there are hundreds of thousands of dollars being missed out in Colorado alone,” said Joyce Burford, executive director of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns.

The association’s board of directors recently decided to hire an expert to seek out private renters in resort towns and make sure they are following local licensing and tax rules. The expert also will develop a uniform strategy for towns to track private rentals and enforce local laws.

Telluride is watching about 400 private rental homes. In Steamboat Springs, all but about 30 of 450 private renters as of late last year had begun paying taxes, and about 100 of 600 private rentals counted in Breckenridge were not licensed or paying taxes, The Denver Post reported.

Breckenridge Town Manager Tim Gagen said many of the violators in his town are out-of-state owners who don’t realize they need to be licensed and pay taxes.