In a recent statement by Airbnb Australia, they have warned Premier Daniel Andrews' claim that 40,000 homes would become available for longer-term rent in Victoria if the government introduces a statewide levy on short term accommodations may not be entirely accurate. The company believes that this claim is part of the government's attempt to make Airbnb owners a convenient scapegoat for the current housing shortage. According to Mr. Andrews, the proposed levy, which could go as high as 7.5 percent, is necessary to address the shortage of long-term rentals in the state. However, Airbnb argues that this is too high and instead suggests a levy between 3-5 percent, which is more in line with international policies.
Furthermore, the company believes that excluding hotels from the levy would create an uneven playing field and give them a "free kick." Airbnb also believes that many of the properties listed on their platform would not become long-term rentals even with the introduction of a levy. In many cases, hosts make their properties available for use during personal trips or as owner-occupied vacation homes. Additionally, the company states that a significant portion of their listings are for shared stays, which are unlikely to be offered on the long-term rental market. However, the government's proposed levy has faced criticism from various industry experts.
Real estate agents and investors believe that the levy would contribute to the exodus of investors from the property market. Furthermore, they argue that the government's approach of punishing property owners with taxes is misguided and instead, they should focus on incentivising investments. In addition to the Airbnb levy, the government is also considering a social housing bonus program that would fast-track planning approvals for developers in return for a percentage of social housing. This proposal, similar to one that was scrapped in 2018 after a campaign from the industry, is expected to be included in the housing package.
Many experts and opposition leaders have criticised the government's approach, labelling it as a "tourism tax" and also pointing out that this would be the 50th tax introduced or increased by the Andrews government. They argue that this is a sign of the government's inability to address the state's financial challenges without resorting to imposing more taxes on its citizens. It is clear that the proposed Airbnb levy and other measures included in the housing package have faced considerable criticism and skepticism from various industry stakeholders. While the government believes that these measures are necessary to address the current housing shortage, their approach has been labeled as misguided, and their claims have been deemed inaccurate.