LITTLE VALLEY — It looks like Cattaraugus County’s bed tax broke the $1 million barrier in 2019.
With a slight reporting lag by some providers, total revenues from the occupancy tax — a tax collected on short-term rentals of rooms like hotel room — are forecast at $1,015,000 for last year, Cattaraugus County Deputy Treasurer Matthew Keller said.
“We’ll have the final numbers in a few weeks, but it’s a good guess,” Keller said.
That’s a 4.9% increase over the $968,000 in receipts from 2018, so it wasn’t a big stretch to expect the $1 million in revenue, Keller agreed. Over the past three years, the bed tax has increased 39.7%.
That $1 million in revenue translates to about $20 million in room bookings for 2019.
The 5% bed tax was enacted in 2004, with much of the revenue dedicated to economic development — particularly tourism.
“A solid 50% of that activity is in Ellicottville,” the deputy treasurer said. About 21% is in Allegany, 11% in Olean and 18% in all other areas.
December was very good last year, with $185,000 in revenue from the occupancy tax, Keller said.
Airbnb hosts in Cattaraugus County contributed $157,000 in bed tax revenue in 2019.
Other online services like VBRO and Home Away do not collect the bed tax, Keller said. The Treasurer’s Office maintains a database of known rental units throughout the county — matching against online listings. Notices along with an application are then sent to the property’s owner.
At the end of 2017, there were 57 registered bed tax collectors, Keller said. Airbnb was not included as a collector at that time. At the end of 2018, there were 171.
A large number of the Airbnb rentals are in towns that surround Ellicottville, Keller said. There are around 20 Airbnb rental properties in Olean, he said.
“You’d be surprised,” he said, with a lot of families renting while they are visiting relatives in Olean for the holidays.
Airbnb reported 23,400 guests in 2019 booking $3 million for Airbnb hosts in Cattaraugus County. In neighboring Allegany County, there were 3,500 Airbnb guests who generated $300,000 for hosts.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)