Airbnb has a new argument for its right to exist in New York: It's generating millions of dollars for the economy. A study contracted by the site found that guests staying in Airbnb-listed lodgings dumped $632 million into the city's businesses last year, and that users paid $31 million in NYC sales taxes while visiting—all of which is to say that travelers booking apartments through Airbnb are far better for New York than tourists frittering away their spendin' money in exorbitantly priced Midtown hotels.
Further, the site's execs argue, Airbnb enables broke apartment dwellers to subsidize their obscene rent with guests, enabling them too to spend more money around town. But Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is unimpressed by this logic. “If Airbnb wants to be a valuable and lawful economic engine for New York, it should support the state's efforts,” a Schneiderman spokesman told the Daily News.
The study is the site's response to demands from the attorney general that it hand over user data for the roughly 15,000 New York City residents who rent out rooms using the service, just the latest maneuver in a larger battle in which Airbnb is accused of skirting the city's 15 percent hotel occupancy tax. Furthermore, the site enters tricky legal territory when it comes to greedy landlords renting out their residences on a permanent basis while they reside elsewhere, depriving actual New Yorkers of already scarce real estate.
Still, nobody's addressed whether any of this applies to renting out one's 116-foot Red Hook-based yacht. Have you seen the wood-burning sauna?