The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is pleased to announce that the Province of British Columbia has approved Whistler’s application to increase its Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) to three per cent. This is an increase from the previous amount of two per cent.
MRDT is a tax on short-term tourist accommodation, including hotel rooms, in addition to the eight per cent Provincial Sales Tax (PST). The tax program was established by the Province in 1987 to fund tourism marketing and programs. Through the recent application approval, Whistler joins many other destinations across British Columbia who are approved to receive the full three per cent MRDT.
“This is a significant milestone for Whistler that further boosts the ability of the municipality and Tourism Whistler to provide effective tourism programs,” said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
“These revenues are critical to communities like Whistler whose property tax revenue from our relatively small population is not adequate to invest in and maintain the amenities and programs needed to serve residents and visitors.
“We have been eager to utilize the additional one per cent in MRDT, and I am thrilled to see it materialize today. Thank you to the Province of British Columbia for making this possible.”
In Whistler, the MRDT funds are received by the RMOW and shared with Tourism Whistler based on a number of agreements. The funds are reinvested by both organizations on behalf of the community. Expenditures are approved by, and reported back to, the Province. Staff have been working diligently with Tourism Whistler to increase the MRDT to three per cent.
“We are very pleased to have been successful in our joint-application with the RMOW to increase the MRDT collected on accommodation sold in Whistler,” says Barrett Fisher, president and CEO at Tourism Whistler. “This is good news for our community as it provides us with important resources for product reinvestment, experience enhancement and market diversification, to ensure Whistler enjoys a healthy, balanced tourism economy for many years to come.”
Through the increase in MRDT, the RMOW expects to collect approximately $2 million more on an annual basis. Details on how this funding will be allocated are still under discussion and are subject to the “prescribed purposes” outlined in the Provincial Sales Tax Act. Consistent with the Provincial Bulletin PST 120, accommodation providers will begin collecting the additional one per cent on December 1, 2018.
Changes to online accommodation announced earlier this year
This is the second change to MRDT in Whistler that has been announced recently.
Earlier this year, the Province confirmed that Airbnb and other online accommodation channels are legally required to submit PST and MRDT on short-term accommodation of less than 27 days starting October 1, 2018. The new rules work toward a more even playing field for all types of short-term accommodation sales to contribute to MRDT.
Compliance for this new requirement are a Provincial responsibility. There are fines in place for non-compliance, late filings or remittances.
The incremental funds collected through this channel are eligible to be invested in affordable housing. The Province requires that interested communities must submit an additional annual proposal to the Province to access these incremental funds for affordable housing purposes. It is unclear at this time how much MRDT revenue Whistler can expect the Province to collect from online accommodation bookings, but the RMOW intends to submit an affordable housing plan consistent with the new program requirements.