Short-term rental tax bill needs to be rewritten

April 16, 2024

The pending House Bill 168 for collecting tax on short-term rentals is so badly written it needs to be thrown away and completely rewritten. I thank the Cape Gazette for bringing this bill to my attention! Even a reading of the current substitute bill for the original bill would be laughable were it not such a serious thing, and I’m still trying to figure out if I would be affected or not.

For starters, the bill defines occupancy, occupants and operators of a short-term rental but then goes on to define short-term rental as a person! In the substitute bill, this is in No. 9 under Subsection 6101, the definitions. So … an occupant or an operator of a person? I would joke that it sounds quite illegal except that our legislators have actually written this into the bill, and there are 10 of them signed on as of this writing!

I have plenty of concerns about what defines a short-term rental. I own a small number of rental homes. I have always rented them out on what is called a month-to-month basis. Some tenants have stayed for years, while others were gone in a few months, especially those who were Air Force families new to the area and who needed time to adjust and choose where they wanted their permanent housing in Delaware. 

My choice for renting month-to-month dates back to when my husband and I were young and how we appreciated being able to find month-to-month rentals because we might not be able to afford to stay an entire year in one place. With all the concerns for not having workforce accommodations in the area, and especially in a state with a military base, our legislators should be much more careful in crafting a bill like this. I can agree that certain vacation rentals are costing some revenue, but this bill sends off alarm bells to someone like me, who not only provides a little workforce housing but who also can read and knows that a rental is not a person.

Carol J. Warren
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