“Lodging Tax” Sting Nets Dozens of Dirty Renters
“Why should they not have to pay, when we pay in thousands every year?” said one Leadville hotel owner, as word spread about a two-month “lodging tax” sting that resulted in dozens of citations issued to “dirty renters” in Lake County yesterday.
In recent years, county officials have put local property owners on notice about the fees associated with renting their homes out to vacationers. But the stack of tickets issued door to door to violators was proof that the situation is much more wide spread than originally thought. The new term “dirty renters” is used to describe those homeowners who rent their homes out without paying the mandatory 1.9% lodging tax.
“If you think your neighbors aren’t keeping an eye out, you’re wrong,” noted a law enforcement officer who made the rounds with the ticket book as the two-month undercover operation wrapped up on Tuesday, March 31. It seems that local neighborhood watch programs included taking pictures of licenses plates from Texas to Oklahoma as Spring Break skiers flocked to the high country for some winter fun.
“Once they see the rotating Spring Break license plates, neighbors sit up, take notice and want to make sure that everyone is playing by the rules,” the man in blue added, as he made contact with yet another “dirty renter,” who was ratted out during the sting.
It was clear that there were some misconceptions about the local code, which was heavily monitored for a two-month period from February 1 – March 31, 2015. The undercover sting included tracking Craig’s List posts about vacation rentals in Lake County. If that homeowner wasn’t registered at the clerk and recorder’s office, then that property was put under top surveillance throughout the prime ski season. Unfortunately for many, their ignorance of the law may cost them more than they made in renting, as first time fines were intentionally high ($1500 and up) to dissuade future violations.
Here are the details of the Lake County Lodging Tax:
If you rent out your Leadville/Lake County home for the holidays, spring break, or events during the summer, you are responsible for paying the appropriate taxes. While some homeowners are under the impression that those guidelines are only applicable for rental periods OVER 30 days, that is not true, according to the Lake County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. These transactions are subject to lodging tax as well:
If you rent out your home for under thirty days, under State law you are required to collect 2.9% state sales tax, 4% county tax, and 1.9% lodging tax and remit it to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Failure to do so will result in the seizing of your home by the Colorado Department of Revenue until payment is made or they auction off all of your belongings.
If you do rent your home please contact the Clerk’s office at 719-486-1410 to begin the paperwork for this process.
“The whole thing is ridiculous!” screamed one homeowner as he glared down at the $1,500 ticket he was just handed. A full time resident, he also owns two other Lake County properties which he rents out “here and there” for supplemental income.
“Tell it to the judge,” stated Leadville Officer I.M. Kidding after issuing his 17th citation of the day.
No doubt, that should make for an interesting day in court, as dozens of “dirty renters” will all have their day in court, on the same day: Friday, April 31st.
“All of these new rules and taxes this county has come up with lately are a joke!” stated the man’s wife as she folded the last load of laundry from the Spring Breakers. “But we ain’t laughing!”
But let’s hope you are, if you read this far into the story: APRIL FOOLS! Gottcha!
In full disclosure, while there was NOT a “lodging tax” sting operation, there is a lodging tax which is factually represented in this story, so be advised! BTW, all you folks that use city streets as a campground for your RVs during the summer, you’re next! #CutTheCord.