The Department of Inland Revenue advises that beginning on 1st March 2023, all property owners operating their properties as short-term vacation rentals will be required to register their properties by 30th April 2023 in a newly launched portal. The end goal is to ensure that all owners within the short-term vacation rental market are maintaining a high standard of service and meeting all tax obligations.
“There is a great need to regulate the short-term vacation rentals industry,” says Acting Controller Shunda Strachan. “Currently thousands of short-term rentals within the country operate according to different standards. Many of these property owners are engaging in other forms of unregulated activities such as renting cars and boats without adhering to Bahamian laws. We also have property managers overseeing properties without business licenses. These unregulated activities are circumventing tax obligations and having a negative impact on the local tourism market.”
Noting the important role short-term vacation rentals play in increasing local room inventory and expanding access to ownership opportunities for Bahamians, the Acting Controller said that the government’s intention is to facilitate the maturation of the industry as it grows.
“We must strike a balance between regulation and fostering growth. Our immediate objective is to identify up to 10,000-plus short-term vacation rental properties throughout The Bahamas. This can be done through the simple act of registering, which will enable us to move forward with our plans to strengthen and promote the industry.”
Property owners are encouraged to register via the vacation rental tab on the DIR website: inlandrevenue.finance.gov.bs to become officially recognized by the Government of The Bahamas. Registrants will be required to provide their name, detailed location of the property, real property tax assessment number, and other relevant details when registering on the portal. To encourage industry compliance, registration is free for the remainder of the year along with no associated business licence fee.
Once registration is approved, successful registrants will then be eligible for various sources of funding for medium-sized enterprises through entities such as the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, and Tourism Development Corporation. The government is also exploring ways of highlighting registrants within the domestic and international tourism markets as official short term vacation rental providers.
Mrs. Strachan, said that the registration initiative will benefit all major stakeholders.
“We are asking the public to assist us in regulating this industry by complying willingly. Ultimately, as a result of these efforts, we will have more uniform standards, more consistent vacation rental experiences, expanded opportunities for property owners, increased government revenues from previously uncaptured sources, and an improved tourism product. If you are a property owner, it is in your best interests to register your vacation rental properties as soon as possible.”
Members of the public seeking more information on the registration of their properties can contact the Department of Inland Revenue at (242) 225-7280.