Business licensing and taxes in New York City
These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice. Note that different cities have different license requirements and rules. The discussion below applies if you are operating within the city limits of New York City. If your business includes or extends to other cities, you should determine whether other licenses are required.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
I’m hosting Experiences in New York City, am I operating a business that requires a permit or license?
In most cases, no.
The City of New York requires these types of businesses to get a permit or license. In general, most Experiences shouldn’t fall within these business types. If you’re not operating one of these types of businesses, the City doesn’t require you to register.
In addition, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance requires a Sales Tax Certificate of Authority if you sell retail goods (which they call “tangible personal property). The State also requires you to register if you hire employees to help with your Trip or Experience. If you don’t plan to hire any employees or sell retail items as part of your Experience, you likely won’t need to register your business with the State either.
That said, we encourage you to carefully review the types of business that have to get licensed or permitted by the City and State. You should also review the City’s helpful article on Registering Your Business, check out the City’s Small Business Services website, speak with City representatives, and speak to a lawyer to make sure you’ve satisfied all filing and registration requirements before hosting your first Experience.
Example 1: Anna is a Trip host who runs Experiences one week per month where she shares her love of handmade jewelry by bringing her guests to her favorite boutiques in Brooklyn. She runs her Experiences alone, is operating as a Sole Proprietorship, and uses her own name in her Listing.
Anna likely doesn’t need to register her business or get a permit from the City in order to take guests to her favorite places. Because she isn’t selling any retail goods and doesn’t have employees, Anna doesn’t need to register her business with the state or county either.
Example 2: Jasmine is a Trip host who runs Experiences one week per month where she brings guests to her workshop in Brooklyn where she demonstrates how she makes handmade jewelry. Guests have the option of purchasing Jasmine’s jewelry separately after her demonstration. Jasmine runs her Experiences with the help of her employees who also work at her workshop.
Jasmine doesn’t need to register her business or get a permit from the City in order to show guests how her jewelry is made or to sell her jewelry to guests. But because she is selling a retail goods and has employees, Jasmine needs to register with the State Department of Taxation.
Is there anything else I should be thinking about?
Yes. You should consider the following:
Your Business Structure.
Go here to learn more about the different types of business structures - including Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company - and what these different types of business structures mean.
Sole Proprietorships are the simplest way to start a new business if you’re the only business owner and person responsible for your business’s assets and liabilities. Other business structures typically require additional fees and filings with the New York Department of State, which are not required for Sole Proprietorships. See here for more information.
Your Business Name.
Most Experience Hosts on Airbnb use their own name on their Listings. If you plan on doing the same, you don’t need to fill out any additional forms.
If you don’t want to use your own legal name for your business, you’ll need to prepare and file a “Certificate of Assumed Name.” If you are operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you are required to file this certificate with the county clerk’s office for each borough in which you are operating. You should contact the county office for more information. A list of borough offices is found here.
If you are operating through an LLC, corporation, or other type of business entity, you will need to file the Certificate of Assumed Name with the State Division of Corporations. Click here for more information about filing a Certificate with the State.
Activities and Licensing.
Depending on the activities involved in your Trip or Experience, you may need to register, obtain licenses, or follow specific rules that apply to that activity. As mentioned above, the City requires licenses for certain types of businesses. If your Experience falls into one of the categories on the list then you’ll need a license from the Department of Consumer Affairs.
The State of New York also regulates certain activities, as discussed further here. Again, check the list and contact the State with any questions.
You should always check with the City or speak to a lawyer to determine which permits and licenses may be required for the experiences you are offering.
If you plan to hire employees as part of your business, you may also be required to obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Sole proprietors without employees may use their Social Security Number instead of EIN. The IRS also provides other useful information on taxes that apply to small businesses.
Tax and accounting.
As an Experience Host, you should make sure you understand each of the following types of taxes, and pay the ones that apply to your experience: Sales tax (some helpful rules here), personal income tax, and/or other applicable business taxes. You may be able to deduct your expenses from income taxes, so you should keep receipts of the costs of running your Experiences.
- Sales tax - If you sell retail goods, you may determine that you need to collect sales tax from your guests. If so, you’ll need to register for a Sales Tax Certificate of Authority. Click here for a complete list of the types of sales that require the collection of sales tax and check out the New York Department of Taxation and Finance for more information.
- Business tax - The New York Department of Taxation and Finance and the IRS provide useful information on taxes for new business.
- Income tax - As a host, you may have to pay US federal and state/local income taxes. We expect all hosts to comply with the tax regulations in their area, and encourage you to speak to a tax professional if you need advice on income taxes.
It's possible that not all of your earnings as a host are taxable as income. You may be able to deduct the cost of your supplies, amounts you paid to other service providers like restaurants or entertainment venues, insurance costs, and other expenses.
Hosts should comply with all federal, state, and local tax regulations, and we encourage you to speak to a tax professional for more details.
Depending on the type of experience you offer, you may be eligible for coverage by Airbnb’s Experience Protection Insurance (“EPI”). See here and here to learn more about EPI. Even if you are covered by EPI, you may want to obtain additional insurance. See here for a discussion of different types of insurance, and talk to an insurance broker for more information.
What resources are available to me to help me get set up as a business?
We encourage you to take advantage of the free resources offered by the City and State to help you set up your business and comply with applicable rules. The City’s Department of Small Business Services offers “Solution Centers,” where you can visit with a specialist to get advice on starting and operating your business.
Are there additional laws that apply to me as a result of my hosting an Experience?
Yes. Several consumer protection laws, like the Federal Trade Commission Act, the New York General Business Law (GBL §349 and §350) and New York City Consumer Protection Law require you to truthfully describe your Experience in your Listing so your guests can make informed decisions. This means that:
- The information you provide to Guests must be accurate and not misleading,
- You accurately and completely describe in your Listing the main characteristics of your Experience, as well as what is included and any special terms and conditions (for example, my favorite local craft cocktail bar Experience includes the first round of drinks, but guests must pay for additional drinks out of pocket)
- You do not offer a service that you do not intend to provide
- Your price is accurate, and you do not List a Experience at one price and then charge an additional fee when your guests get there.
In sum, this means that you need to provide the services advertised in your Listing, within the advertised dates and times, at the advertised price. For more information, the FTC provides helpful guidance on truth-in-advertising, that we encourage you to review.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).