A divided appeals court Thursday said it won’t ask the Florida Supreme Court to take up a dispute about whether Airbnb and similar vacation-rental platforms are required to collect and send in county tourist-development taxes.
Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon asked the 4th District Court of Appeal to take a step known as certifying a “question of great public importance” to the Supreme Court.
But in a 2-1 decision, the appeals court rejected the request. The court in March sided with the vacation-rental platforms in the dispute over the collection of so-called “bed taxes.”
The case centers on whether the online platforms, which serve as a sort of high-tech middleman between property owners and renters, should also collect and send in taxes.
The platforms accept payments from renters and pass along the money to property owners.
In the March decision, the court majority rejected Gannon’s arguments that the platforms should be considered “dealers” under state law, a description that would require them to collect and remit taxes.
The ruling said a dealer is “one who can grant a possessory interest in the property.” That ruling led to the request to certify the case to the Supreme Court.
In a dissent Thursday, Judge Robert Gross wrote that he backed sending a question to justices.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida,” Gross wrote. “COVID-19 has shuttered the tourism industry, but that will not always be so. When Florida emerges from the economic impact of the pandemic, local governments will be starved for revenue. Whether the appellee corporations (rental platforms) have the obligation to collect a tourist development tax and remit it to the taxing authority is a question of great public importance and of statutory interpretation that the Florida Supreme Court should resolve for all the citizens and local governments of the state.”
Chief Judge Spencer Levine and Judge Dorian Damoorgian ruled against the certification request but did not give a detailed explanation.
Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.