Airbnb wants you to pay the local tax times 4 in cash upon arrival

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Feb 11, 2021
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Airbnb did not disclose the total price (including the local tax) in the final price page. After I made the payment on Airbnb, the host send me a message demanding that I pay 4 times the amount of the actual city tax in cash upon check-in. When I contacted Airbnb about the issue, they did not see any problem with that and told me to make the payment since the host mentioned the cash payment at the bottom of his listing page. When I, the guest, refused to make additional payments in cash and cancelled the reservation, Airbnb refused to issue a refund. Airbnb continues to claim that the refund needs to be issued by the host. The host in turn claims that the refund needs to be issued by Airbnb. I reported the host to the local authorities who launched an investigation for tax fraud on the basis the host’s listing demanding 4 times the local tax amount to be paid in cash. I informed Airbnb about the investigation and requested the refund again. Airbnb continues to claim that the host decides whether I get the refund. A scammer is not going to refund anybody’s money. Airbnb allows scammers to take advantage of guests through their platform while they enrich themselves based on these unethical business practices which makes them a party to the wrong.
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Unfortunately, if the listing stated local taxes have to be paid and you booked a nonrefundable rate without asking the owner what those taxes would be - you broke the contract wanting to cancel after. The time to ask those questions is before you booked. You agreed to the terms by booking.

Airbnb is correct - it is now up to the owner to decide if they want to refund. You can use our company contacts to go up the Airbnb chain but they ordinarily don't get involved in cases like this. They merely act as a booking agent.

If it were me - I would wait until you hear from the local authorities. If they agree with you, you might have a better chance of Airbnb doing something.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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I'm not sure OP has provided us with enough information yet to be able to help. The issue appears to be that this owner requires payment of local taxes in cash at some point in te booking/stay. Let's ignore that payments outside the platform will inevitably cause problems.

If the actual tax per night is, hypothetically, $10, and the owner properly discloses that taxes must be paid in cash, so be it.

If the actual tax per night is $10, and the owner, demands $40 per night, that is not OK. It is not tax fraud but you can't say that there is some charge which must be paid and then charge four times that fee.

So I would request that OP return with some more facts.
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,853
28,968
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I'm not sure OP has provided us with enough information yet to be able to help. The issue appears to be that this owner requires payment of local taxes in cash at some point in te booking/stay. Let's ignore that payments outside the platform will inevitably cause problems.

If the actual tax per night is, hypothetically, $10, and the owner properly discloses that taxes must be paid in cash, so be it.

If the actual tax per night is $10, and the owner, demands $40 per night, that is not OK. It is not tax fraud but you can't say that there is some charge which must be paid and then charge four times that fee.

So I would request that OP return with some more facts.
We need to know exactly what the ad says about the local taxes. A link to the listing would help.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,062
6,487
the United States
The starting point in cases like these is to examine the relevant policies/information, which can be found at this link: Airbnb Cancellation Policies

As with VRBO, their hosts choose the refund policy (timeframe) which should have been included in your reservation email.

Assuming that your request qualifies, you can first escalate this using the contacts provided in this link: Airbnb
be sure to start at the lowest level and that you give each contact one (1) week to respond before escalating to the next level

If that effort fails to produce a refund, you can contact the Attorney General's office for the state in which this host resides using this link: Who's My AG?


Please take the time to update this thread as you progress toward a resolution. Your feedback is important.
 
Jun 24, 2019
1,057
2,323
73
The starting point in cases like these is to examine the relevant policies/information, which can be found at this link: Airbnb Cancellation Policies

As with VRBO, their hosts choose the refund policy (timeframe) which should have been included in your reservation email.

Assuming that your request qualifies, you can first escalate this using the contacts provided in this link: Airbnb
be sure to start at the lowest level and that you give each contact one (1) week to respond before escalating to the next level

If that effort fails to produce a refund, you can contact the Attorney General's office for the state in which this host resides using this link: Who's My AG?


Please take the time to update this thread as you progress toward a resolution. Your feedback is important.
I think we still need more information. Isn't the cancellation policy irrelevant if there is no meeting of the minds because OP has agreed to pay the tax in cash but the owner now demands 4 times the actual tax?
 

Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
855
1,791
Why would the tax need to be paid in cash other than the owner doesn't want a record of it for tax purposes?
You might find that the collection of taxes in cash at the hotel are a lot more common then you think ( well overseas anyways).
1) Exchange rates change , paying in local currency hedges this.
2) If it is added to AirBnB's over all charge they will lose 30% (more or less) to the processing fees of AirBnB.
3) I am sure some places , especially the gray apartment and house rental owners do not pay any taxes and keep these fees. I would think most do pay the taxes due.
 
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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,062
6,487
the United States
I think we still need more information. Isn't the cancellation policy irrelevant if there is no meeting of the minds because OP has agreed to pay the tax in cash but the owner now demands 4 times the actual tax?
I do not believe so. The tax issue was the reason for cancellation and is, as such, an outlier. The relevant and compelling factor is indeed compliance with the policy by both guest and host. If that has been adhered to, then the host MUST issue a refund.
 
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Feb 11, 2021
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Thank you all for your thoughtful responses and feedback.

Here's a bit more information:

The local taxes are a fixed fee per person per day (21 CZK ~ 0.81 EUR depending on the exchange rate). The host demanded 4 EUR (which is more than 4 times the local tax amount. The exact wording in the listing (attached) was "Dear Guests, I would like to inform you about the city tax, which will be paid once at check-in. The city tax is 4€ per night and person." Admittedly, I did not notice this in the listing, I have never paid the taxes separately in cash before in Prague (and I am from there) so it did not occur to me that this was a possibility on Airbnb. But when the host started making demands and the amount was 4 times the actual tax amount, I refused to pay. When I contacted Airbnb about the issue, they said I had to pay because the host mentioned it in their listing, they did not care that the host was charging over 4 times more, taking advantage of guests under the pretense of the "local tax". I did not want to pay and certainly did not want to get into an argument with the host about the amount /the cash payment upon arrival so I cancelled my reservation. Now I am trying to get a refund.

As for the investigation: the local authorities examined the listing and started an investigation. The investigation is now ongoing. I received a formal letter from the authorities informing me about their decision to investigate my case further. I shared this letter with Airbnb and again requested a refund.
 

Attachments

  • Perlova 6 _ B4 · ★★★★★ GRAND APARTMENT ❤ IN THE HEART OF PRAGUE ★★★ - Apartments for Rent in H...pdf
    2.1 MB · Views: 17
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Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,853
28,968
New York
www.promalvacations.com
“ The exact wording in the listing (attached) was "Dear Guests, I would like to inform you about the city tax, which will be paid once at check-in. The city tax is 4€ per night and person." Admittedly, I did not notice this in the listing, I have never paid the taxes separately in cash before in Prague (and I am from there) so it did not occur to me that this was a possibility on Airbnb. ”

Unfortunately this makes your case worse. It was clearly stated in the listing and you didn’t notice it. I am not sure that you have winnable fight with the owner if it was clearly stated and you booked anyway.
 
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Skippy

May 30, 2019
896
2,390
So the actual tax is 1€ "per night and person" and the host is charging 4€?
 

Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
855
1,791
4 euro per person per day does not match with what others posters say that they have paid. So it does look to me like the hotel owner is trying to scam a few more Euro from the gullible tourist.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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I agree wth Neil, above. The price for the rental is whatever the landlord says it is. It really does not matter what labels are attached. The 4 euro per night was disclosed. The landlord could have called it a "resort fee."
 
Apr 1, 2018
112
243
I agree wth Neil, above. The price for the rental is whatever the landlord says it is. It really does not matter what labels are attached. The 4 euro per night was disclosed. The landlord could have called it a "resort fee."
Except the landlord specifically called it "city tax" and that is deception or worse, unless, of course, the city recently raised the taxes and the OP isn't aware of it.

Still, I wouldn't have made such a big fuss over a 3€ difference per night, especially since it is clearly listed in the ad.
 
Feb 11, 2021
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The issue was that I made the host an offer to pay $650 and he accepted (see below) which is why I did not bother to study the last few sentences of his listing. The host started demanding the cash payment for local tax only after I paid the amount he had agreed to. The fact that the local tax was 4 times higher than the actual amount was just another sign that this person was dishonest. The additional charges for late check-in fees were not all disclosed in the listing and were messaged to me by the host after I had made my payment. Third sign that the host was not to be trusted.


I wanted to keep the description of the issue short for simplicity. But details matter so here’s a full description of the issues with all the details:

On October 4, 2020 I booked an apartment at Perlova 6, Prague 1 at a rate of 650 USD for 28 days (Oct 5 - Nov 2, 2020) on Airbnb - a copy of the listing attached. I offered to pay the host 650 USD. The host accepted and emailed me a link which I used to make a payment of 671 USD, assuming the additional $21 covered taxes.

After I made the payment, the host informed me that he had expected me to pay 650 EUR (and not 650 USD) and asked me to pay additional 121 EUR. The host also demanded a cash payment be made upon arrival for what the host called "a city tax" in the amount of 4 EUR per day. In addition, the host messaged me a payment schedule for early and late-check in fees (also payable in cash to the host) as follows:
- Early check-in from 12:00AM (49€)
- Late check-out till 1:00 PM (49€)
- Early check-in + Late check-out (88€)

I refused to make any additional cash payments for 3 reasons:
1. Local taxes are always paid as part of the total amount if a payment is made by a credit card and are never paid separately in cash at a later time
2. I offered the host 650 USD and not 650 EUR and the host accepted by emailing me a payment link and then accepting my payment
3. There is no "city" or "local" tax in the amount of 4 EUR per day (the actual city tax in Prague is 21 CZK which less than 1 EUR per person per day - see the attached letter about the investigation intiated by the City of Prague)
4. The early/late check-in fees were not disclosed on the host's Airbnb page

I asked the host to cancel my reservation since the amount I paid (671 USD) was not acceptable to him. The host refused to cancel my reservation demanding that I make the additional payment in cash upon arrival or I cancel the reservation myself. I did not feel safe proceeding with my reservation and getting into a potential argument about cash payments with the host upon arrival.

Per Airbnb's cancellation policy, I would only be refunded 51.28 USD if I cancelled the reservation. I notified Airbnb about the problem via their website prior to check-in and requested that Airbnb cancel my reservation. I did not receive a response for more than half a day so I called customer support. Airbnb was unable to provide timely customer support and I did not receive timely resolution. My check-in date was the next day so I proceeded to cancel the reservation myself and was charged 619.30 USD per cancellation policy. I never moved into the apartment and no services were rendered. I had to make a last minute reservation elsewhere the night before arrival. This was very stressful.

Later, I requested a refund from the host who denied my request. I escalated to Airbnb, Airbnb denied my request. As of today, I was refunded 51.28 USD total and the host and Airbnb kept the remaining 619.72 USD.

I am filing a complaint against Airbnb for the following reasons:

1. Airbnb did not disclose a full price of the reservation I booked on the Airbnb website - the total amount shown and the total amount I paid was not the "actual total amount" - Airbnb and the host both demanded that I made additional cash payments after I made a payment using the website
2. Airbnb provided a mechanism for negotiation between me (the guest) and the host; after I made a payment on Airbnb (at a price agreed upon by the host) Airbnb did not enforce the terms of that agreement
3. Airbnb failed to provide timely customer service and help resolve the issue prior to the check-in date leaving me no option but to cancel my reservation myself which allowed Airbnb and the host to take full advantage of Airbnb's cancellation policy and keep 619.72 USD without ever providing any services
4. Airbnb condoned unethical conduct of the host by demanding that I pay a city tax fee in cash to the host even after I informed Airbnb that the amount was 4 times the actual tax fee the city charges; Airbnb permits and enforces predatory behavior by hosts on their website

I am also filing a complaint against "Michael", the host, for the following reasons:

1. Michael charges tourists "a city/local tax" of 4 EUR per person per day - please see the attached copy of the Airbnb listing which explicitly states: "Dear Guests, I would like to inform you about the city tax, which will be paid once at check-in. The city tax is 4€ per night and person."
2. Michael requests that this made-up tax be paid in cash upon check-in outside of the total amount that the guest pays through Airbnb
3. Michael charges additional fees (early/late check-in) not listed on Airbnb's website that he only discloses after the guest makes a payment
4. Michael refused to honor the price in the amount of 650 USD after he accepted it by providing a payment link, then refused to cancel the reservation demanding additional payments be made in cash
5. Michael refused to provide a refund even though no services were provided
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,853
28,968
New York
www.promalvacations.com
You are incorrect about local taxes being included in rates. In many European counties, a local tax is charged in cash and is paid at the hotel or rental. Prague is one of them-


Unfortunately you admittedly didn’t read the entire listing. And you booked a nonrefundable rate. That’s not the owners fault. You would rather lose hundreds of dollars you paid rather rush trying to work out paying the taxes with the owner when you arrive.

Your option is to appeal to VRBO but you didn’t read the listing that clearly stated what the owner was charging. I am not optimistic that you will get anywhere with them but we never say never.
 
Feb 11, 2021
4
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37
Where does it say that the local tax is payable in cash in Prague? Can’t see that in the article you provided.

Why the value judgement? How is that helpful?


You are incorrect about local taxes being included in rates. In many European counties, a local tax is charged in cash and is paid at the hotel or rental. Prague is one of them-


Unfortunately you admittedly didn’t read the entire listing. And you booked a nonrefundable rate. That’s not the owners fault. You would rather lose hundreds of dollars you paid rather rush trying to work out paying the taxes with the owner when you arrive.

Your option is to appeal to VRBO but you didn’t read the listing that clearly stated what the owner was charging. I am not optimistic that you will get anywhere with them but we never say never.
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,853
28,968
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Go to Expedia and do a search in Prague for hotels. Do a mock booking. You will see in the final price that local taxes show as payable at the property.


Price details
1 room x 2 nights $130.01

$65.01 average per night

Taxes and fees $13.00

Local tax Payable at property $3.96
Total $146.97
Pay now $143.01
Pay at property $3.96




 

Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
855
1,791
1. Local taxes are always paid as part of the total amount if a payment is made by a credit card and are never paid separately in cash at a later time
There are many places I travel where you have to pay the hotel taxes in cash in person.
 
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