WI: Reject AB 683

February 4, 2020

To: Members of the Wisconsin State Assembly  

From: Americans for Tax Reform

Re: AB 683

Dear Representative,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Wisconsin, I urge you to reject Assembly Bill 683. While this legislation aims at making it easier for local governments to regulate short-term rentals, and collect taxes on room rentals, the results will be a privacy nightmare for Wisconsin residents and a compliance mess for companies – all to collect taxes municipalities are already able to collect.

Imposing policies that risk crippling or destroying short-term rentals is misguided. Home-sharing is a boon to local economies as visitors stay in areas less frequented by tourists, stay longer, and spend more dollars in these areas. Hosts are able to make extra money on the side to help make ends meet, or save. The vast majority share their own home.

The privacy of Wisconsin residents should be paramount, yet AB 683 violates that privacy. It would demand that short-term rental platforms share detailed personal information with government at the whim of officials by removing the requirement that governments have probable cause for an audit.

These kinds of invasive policies are associated with aggressive enforcement and harassment of hosts by government. In New York City, a federal judge blocked a city law on Fourth Amendment grounds that would have required regular collection of hosts’ personal information. AB 683 follows this bad example by allowing localities to easily demand and collect information.  

While local governments can choose to have the state manage room tax collection under AB 683, they don’t have to. Because they can impose significant fines of up to $45,000 per year and pocket the money, municipalities are incentivized to handle enforcement themselves and look to impose fines on short-term rental platforms directly.

This makes an already bad situation worse, as companies could have to navigate hundreds of different jurisdictions that have different processes for tax remittance, on top of demanding all sorts of personal information on residents.

Local governments can already collect and enforce room tax. There is no excuse for giving local governments free reign to violate Wisconsinites’ privacy and create a compliance nightmare. ATR urges you to reject AB 683, and protect Wisconsin’s economy and citizens’ right to privacy.


Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform